Joy as Gala Day is back for 2012

The Leith Gala Day pageant
The Leith Gala Day pageant
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ORGANISERS of the crisis-hit Leith Festival are to proceed with next year’s Gala Day after securing funding and attracting new volunteers.

Rowan Campbell, board member of the Leith Festival Association, said the Gala Day would take place in June 2012 but the future of the festival as a whole was still in doubt.

Last month the Evening News reported that the ten-day event, which has been running for eight years, would not take place in 2012 and could close for good after it lost thousands of pounds in funding.

While that remains the case, it now looks like the Gala Day – which has been running for over 100 years and is the festival’s highlight – will go ahead after organisers secured a four-figure sum in funding from Scotmid, which has agreed to sponsor the event next year. Plus, 10 new volunteers came forward to offer help.

Organisers are also hopeful that the Pageant will take place in 2012, although more funding would be required.

Ms Campbell said: “We are fairly confident that, with the support of Scotmid and the new volunteers, we will be able to move ahead with the Gala Day. We are very optimistic about the future but are not out of the woods. We usually have 150 events in 50 venues but in 2012, it could just be the one.

“We still haven’t secured any core funding for a festival manager or office. We have potentially secured the Gala Day for 2012 but not the whole festival, which still needs a bit of love.”

The future of the festival was left hanging in the balance after losing several income streams from local authority and charitable body funders.

Forth Ports, which was the main sponsor, withdrew funding – said to be a five- figure sum – in recent years, with funding from the Leith Neighbourhood Partnership, Big Lottery Fund and Awards for All also cut. The festival costs £50,000-£75,000 to run, and attracts between 15,000 and 20,000 people every year.

A debt of £2000 was run up during this year’s event and the festival manager position was recently scrapped due to a lack of funds. The event is now run by a board of volunteers.

Leith councillor Gordon Munro, chair of the event, said he was pleased that the Leith Festival Gala Day would now go ahead.“With the help and support of Leith, we will be able to have both the Gala Day and the Pageant,” he said.

“Leith will put on the best event it can with no funds, no office and no festival manager.”

Leith Community Centre played host to the event’s annual general meeting last week, with a public meeting taking place alongside it. Rough figures for staging the main Gala Day were given as £5,500 or £6,000, plus £2000 for the Pageant.

Coun Munro said one option was to limit the festival to one Gala Day-style event in 2012 at a cost of £5500-£8000. Three board members, including treasurer Fiona Duncan, stepped down due to work commitments. Coun Munro added: “We desperately need a new treasurer to help us manage our finances.”

A working group to discuss the 2012 event was formed, to report back to the board in the New Year.