Children’s festival ‘facing axe’ without funding help

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A CHILDREN’S festival is on the brink of bankruptcy and will fold unless this year’s event breaks even, its founder has claimed.

The Parents Like Us (PLU) festival will attract up to 30,000 people to Leith Links this weekend for three days of theatre, music and other activities aimed at children aged six years and under.

Event organisers today said they couldn’t afford to run up any further losses and admitted the 2012 festival will be the last if costs aren’t covered.

They added that obtaining external funding had been difficult because charities and non-profit organisations viewed PLU, which is free to enter but charges for tickets to individual shows, as money-making.

Kate Marks, PLU founder and managing director, said: “If it doesn’t break even this year then it will have to fold. We do not get council funding or any other kind of funding.

“When we approach funders and they see we are charging for stalls and for tickets to shows and other activities, they assume that we’re money-making and they don’t want to help.”

Ms Marks said the volunteer- run festival, which started in 2005 and generated small surpluses in its first few years, had been hit by the recession and increased competition for charity funding.

She said: “What we need to survive is for as many people as possible to come and a three to five-year financial commitment from a non-profit body.

“It’s hugely disappointing it’s come to this.”

Karen Toscani, manager at the Leith Festival, said PLU’s experience was similar to that of many smaller events and added that a Small Festivals Network was being set up to share ideas and best practice.

She said: “It’s a pressure that all of the smaller festivals are facing at the moment – they’re all struggling in the same way.

“There’s no recognition of the soft benefits they bring – happiness, wellbeing, laughter. Success and funding applications get measured in terms of hard things like footfall, money, audience.”

Jim Scanlon, chair of Leith Links community council, said: “If it folds, it will be a loss to the local community and further afield in Edinburgh.”