The managing director of the Rose of Tralee Festival has appealed to local businesses for extra financial support this year blaming the decision by Fáilte Ireland to cut its free street entertainment grant by 50% for the plea.
In April, Fáilte Ireland reduced the aid from €30,000 to €15,000. The tourism agency said it wanted to support off-season events, primarily outdoor, in Killarney in March and in October. Letters have been sent by the Rose organisers to 100 local businesses in a bid to raise funds.
The Rose of Tralee, now gearing up for its 58th Festival, is worth €14m to Tralee alone. More than 1.7m viewers watched the TV selections over two nights last year and media value to Tralee and to Kerry in terms of newspaper coverage and TV coverage is estimated at €1.5m.
“It’s sad that Fáilte Ireland feels that’s our value,” said festival managing director Anthony O’Gara.
He contrasted the €15,000 with Galway Arts which receives €275,000.
“We have already written to more than 100 businesses inviting them to contribute towards the cost of providing this year’s free street entertainment and so far we have received a positive response,” Mr O’Gara said.
While the festival staff and volunteers would not be “knocking on doors this year,” anyone who wishes to make a contribution can do so by contacting the Festival office on 066 7121322 or by clicking “donate” on www.roseoftralee.ie, he said.
Festival organisers have worked very hard to minimise any impact that the funding cut may have by continuing to provide more than 70 hours of free entertainment on the streets and in Tralee Town Park.
Mr O’Gara also said: “Overall in 2016, we saw a major increase in visitor numbers to the town due to the presence of 65 Roses, their families and supporters descending on Tralee for the extended week of festivities. This could not have been delivered without the valuable contribution from various local business sectors ranging from under €100 to in excess of €10,000.
“Such generosity, totalling €86,000, helped us cover the cost of providing so much quality entertainment for locals and visitors and we would welcome similar support in 2017.”
Fáilte Ireland said the decision to cut funding for the 2017 Rose Festival is because it takes place at the height of the summer season and it wants to focus on promoting off-season events.
“As the Rose of Tralee takes place in Kerry in August [i.e. in a tourism hotspot over the peak season], it does not offer the same scope to grow significant additional tourism numbers and activity as other events in May,” Failte Ireland said.
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