Big Arts Day gets go ahead for next year, despite overspend
THE Big Arts Day will go ahead next summer – even though it cost Swindon Council an extra £31,000 to ensure the cultural extravaganza went ahead at Lydiard Park this year despite the wet weather.
Official figures show £7,300 extra was spent on traffic management, £14,600 went on additional infrastructure including ground protection, and £9,100 was shelled out on increased staffing. The total includes some money for repairing damage to the park caused by the feet of an estimated 10,000 people on July 14.
The council originally hoped to save £21,000 this financial year through the event becoming self-financing. But it did not break even as there was extra expense, mainly associated with managing the on-site parking ban imposed after the car parking area was declared too waterlogged to use.
However, Coun Garry Perkins , cabinet member for regeneration and culture, said Swindon was just unlucky this year and officers were busy choosing a date for next summer, which he hoped would not be wet or clash with another large event.
“My view is that it should go ahead because it’s such a huge showcase there for Swindon’s culture. Even this year, with the rain and horrendous weather, there was still over 10,000 visitors to the arts day,” he said.
“So it’s something that’s good, that Swindon does well, it’s a showcase of the culture of Swindon and as far as I’m concerned it will go ahead.”
Had the festival been cancelled at short notice this year, Swindon Council says it would have cost an extra £70,000 to £85,000 in lost income from the bar and stalls, as well as cancelled contracts for marquees and other equipment.
Some traders complained to the Adver on the day that they would struggle to break even, however Coun Perkins said he had already had traders calling up to book a stand at next year’s event.
Hopes the festival would break even for the first time this year were scuppered by the rain, however Coun Perkins believes it could still be possible next summer, providing the rain holds off.
“We’ve had three years of the event,” he said. “Two years were good, this year was wet. We had to have a bad year at some point so hopefully we won’t get another one for another few years.
“That’s England, isn’t it? We have wet summers.
“But we carried on and the partners worked exceptionally well and the police and everyone pulled together – and we will learn for next year of how we can handle things better.
“So yes, we’re looking for sunshine, we’re looking for dry weather and we’re looking for another good day out.”