COVENTRY’S much-celebrated annual Godiva Festival could be held every two years due to council cuts.
The proposal for the hugely popular three-day music festival is included in Coventry City Council budget cuts plans revealed today.
It has been billed as the country’s largest free music festival attracting up to 120,000 people to the War Memorial Park – to enjoy some of the biggest names in music nationally and internationally.
The proposal comes despite some previous estimates that it brings £4million into Coventry’s economy – with visitors coming to the city from across the region and country.
The council’s Labour leaders want to re-assess those estimates amid ongoing concern about the cost of subsidising the event.
They believe it is increasingly difficult to justify the £300,000 net spend each year – unless more sponsorship and other income can be raised.
Memorable headline performances have ranged from Coventry’s The Enemy to global superstars Womack and Womack, and from Echo and the Bunnymen to the Happy Mondays, who graced the main stage last year.
The festival – considered the “jewel in the crown” of the city’s events calendar – has also showcased local young musicians and provided a family day out with events for children, comedy and other artistic talent.
Today’s pre-budget report – which goes to cabinet on December 2 before public consultation and a budget setting meeting in February – proposes cutting the council’s events budget by 40 per cent.
It would save the council £300,000 a year to help prioritise the most essential services, as the local authority attempts to plug a forecast £65million blackhole by 2017.
Councillor Damian Gannon, cabinet member for finance, says heavy cuts are necessary because government funds to the council will be halved by 2017 – removing £95million since 2010.
He warns “people will be losing services they’ve come to take for granted.”
Speaking with the Coventry Observer, he said: “The Godiva Festival is going to go ahead next year but we’ll make a decision about whether to reduce the frequency to every other year, or whether we could get more sponsorship to reduce the costs to the council of the festival.
“It’s difficult to quantify the extent to which the festival bringing people in benefits the city’s economy.
“For something like this, we’d probably seek some form of public engagement, to try to establish what people’s values are in making these difficult budget decisions.”
The festival was washed out and cancelled in 2012 at the eleventh hour when the park became a mudbath, costing the council £400,000 as sponsorship and other income of around £100,000 was lost.
That prompted a debate among councillors about the ongoing costs of the festival, and whether some acts should perform in the city centre instead to generate more income for the city’s economy.
Three years ago, the council took over management of the Godival Festival from city centre management company CVOne, which had its council funding cut.
CVOne had steered the festival from humble beginnings in the 1990s to the massive event it became over the last decade.