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Frome Five Hundred appeal launched to secure Festival’s long term future

A major appeal has been launched by Frome Festival organisers in an attempt to secure its long term future. 

Funding has become an increasing problem in recent years and organisers have launched a Frome Festival Five Hundred Appeal in a bid to save the event.

The appeal was launched last week at The Three Swans pub where organisers explained how the membership works and the importance of finding funds to keep the festival which attracts top names, as well as thousands of people, to the town.

The Frome Festival Five Hundred appeal will hope to find 500 local people to become friends of the Frome Festival. Each ‘friend’ will pay a membership fee starting from £20.

Changes to arts funding  have meant programmes during recent festivals have been constrained and organisers have found it increasingly difficult to maintain the high standards they set each year.

Frome Festival director Martin Dimery said, “I think the Frome Festival is well established not just among the people of Frome and the area, but is highly regarded nationally. It brings in large numbers of tourists, as well as significantly adding to the cultural life of the town.

“The idea of a membership was dreamed up in 2000 before my time as director. Frome was crying out for a community festival with so many excellent venues. Many towns, perhaps ten times the size of Frome are not blessed with such a range of performance and arts spaces.

“Now the Festival Friends are looking to increase membership, with a target of 500 members. It is only £20 per year to join. The appeal is as much about encouraging the local community to support and participate in the festival, and the year-round activities we are also trying to generate, as it is about raising cash.

“We’d like a few ideas about what other events we can hold at other times of the year to both raise funds, and keep our Friends interested in our future programme.

“We are secure financially for the time being, but we need to ensure the long-term future of the festival. For most of its 14 year existence, the Frome Festival has not been able to plan beyond the next festival because of limited reserves. Planning ahead enables us to look further afield for long term sponsorship and funding, and work on a more professional footing.

“The 2014 Festival was highly successful artistically, and was one of the better festivals commercially too. Now is the time to build on that success and not rest on our laurels.”

Chairman of the Friends committee, Fred Rolfe added, “The festival board has looked at various sources for funding, a reinvigorated Friends scheme was one which seemed likely to succeed.

“We want to secure the festival for the future, additional funding to run the office for 12 months each year will enable the artistic director to plan ahead for future festivals instead of having to work on a limited timetable, which restricts him to working on one year at a time.

“We are looking for greater involvement from a wider range of the community, we hope the involvement will include going to festival events, instigating them and taking part in festival events outside the festival’s 10 days.

“The festival is a platform for the many artists and performers who live in Frome; it also brings to the Frome audiences national names which makes for an exciting mix of events. As ever, our thanks go to the support given to us by the town council and local businesses without whom, there would not be a festival on which to build.”