Press Release – Skipton Puppet Festival future ‘hinges on a Yes vote’

An internationally acclaimed puppet festival is hoping to return to Skipton for the eighth time next year thanks to financial support from Skipton BID.

The Skipton International Puppet Festival is globally regarded as one of the best events of its kind and attracts thousands of people into the town.

Visitors come from all over the UK and abroad, with people travelling from Europe, Canada, America and Australia in the past.

But despite its success and popularity, the event relies on grant funding to happen – and that Arts Council funding is dependent on local partnership funding being in place first.

The BID has been a vital part of that partnership in recent years and has again agreed to provide 10 to 15 per cent funding for the cost of the event to allow it to apply for the Arts Council grant.

Festival director Liz Lempen says BID funding has kept the biennial festival, which is scheduled to take place from 4thto 6thOctober next year, going for the last four events.

And BID manager Geraldine Thompson says that anyone who wants to keep the festival – and the many other Skipton events the BID supports – going in future years must vote YES for renewal in January.

Liz said: “The festival has grown and it is now an impactful but expensive event to create.

“We cannot do it without a large grant from the Arts Council. Over the last decade as funding cuts have bitten deep the application process has become ever more competitive.

“Without local partnerships and partnership funding in place we would not have a strong hand to play. With generous commitment from the BID we can make our case to lever funding to Skipton.

“The BID has actually kept the festival going for the last four events, putting up funds and support in advance of funding applications.

“It has good reasons to do so. The festival brings people to the town, developing its cultural offer as a great place to live, work and play.

“The Puppet Festival literally puts Skipton on the map, developing the unique and characterful profile of the town both nationally and Internationally.

Photo courtesy of Blu Planet / Skipton Puppet Festival

“Local people love it, turning out in thousands to either participate or watch the spectacular puppet parade; the town loves it; and visitors flock from near and far.

“The arts community love it – it is a beacon for puppeteers. It also lays a definite claim to being the largest, most popular and definitely the friendliest celebration of family puppet theatre in the UK.”

Geraldine explained why it was so vital the BID came up with the funding to keep the puppet festival in town.

“Skipton International Puppet Festival has grown over its seven biennial editions into a major jewel in the crown of Skipton’s calendar of events,” she said

“Not only does the festival contribute to the happiness factor of life in Skipton but with about 15,000 visitors over the weekend, it also generates a significant audience from further afield contributing to the local economy.

“Visitors experiencing a brilliant weekend event set against the backdrop of charming and vibrant Skipton will undoubtedly return for a second dose of the town.”

She said that although 75 per cent of the funding comes from the Arts Council, the application for that grant funding was dependent on local support levels and funding.

“Tohave any kind of chance we must make the strongest application we can with a minimum of 10% partner funds in place and also show support from the locality in terms of local authority, business and community,” she said.

“Some of this can be in-kind support, but the more hard cash that is confirmed, the stronger the application.

“Local authorities have increasingly reduced or cut their community grant pots completely. Which brings us to the BID. For the past four festivals Skipton BID has come forward with a substantial 10 to 15% grant offer to lay the foundations for a realistic budget in advance of that crucial Arts Council application.

“Without the Arts Council grant, the festival can’t happen; without the BID, the Arts Council would not fund it.

“Therefore, in plain terms, if you want to see Skipton International Puppet Festival continue then please vote for the BID in January.”