Does the Belfast Festival at Queens have a future?
This year’s Festival held between October 19th and November 4th has been the 44th held here at Queens. However it has been announced that unless funding bodies match the University’s commitment to the Festival, next year's will not be funded by the University. The financial support provided by the Government funding for the Festival has been cut in recent years despite claims that it contributes at least £6.5 million to the Northern Irish economy.
The Belfast Festival at Queens is the largest Arts Festival seen throughout Ireland. From its humble beginnings it has flourished, and in its time has played host to performers as big as Jimi Hendrix and Dexy’s Midnight Runners (remember ‘Come on Eileen’!) This year the Festival showcased a variety of events including The Gypsy Kings, the Magners Comedy nights and the Spiegeltent, and despite the funding problems has made the most money in its history; bringing in over £500,000. Ticket sales saw an increase of 40% from last year alone, and over 100, 000 people showed their support attending the range of events.
Michael Palin obviously thought there was something special here when he ‘vowed never to take his one-man show anywhere else on earth’ after his first performance in 1981.
Surely the past and continued success of the Festival warrants its salvation? Is it not reasonable to expect the government to 'pay up' on an event which contributes so much to the Northern Ireland Arts scene?