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Welborne event missing this year

PUBLISHED: 14:24 16 January 2008 | UPDATED: 11:54 21 May 2010

WELBORNE Festival will be missing from Norfolk's arts calendar in 2008, but it will be back again next year.

The event has grown in scope and popularity since it was founded in one of the county's smaller villages at the turn of the new century.

WELBORNE Festival will be missing from Norfolk's arts calendar in 2008, but it will be back again next year.

The event has grown in scope and popularity since it was founded in one of the county's smaller villages at the turn of the new century.

Last year, well over 1,000 people enjoyed the weekend of art, literary gatherings, music and performances clustered around the parish church and village hall.

Many of those involved in the activities of recent years have been children from mid-Norfolk schools.

But the workload and effort involved in getting things together and paying for the festival mean that it will almost certainly become biennial from now on, rather than every year.

Organiser Mike Webb stressed that the decision had nothing to do with the recent funding crisis in the region prompted by proposed cuts announced by Arts Council England.

He added: “We made the decision quite a long time ago that there would not be a festival this year, but we will definitely be back in 2009.”

Mr Webb said organising the festival programme took an enormous amount of time, and booking events and performers had started to overlap the dates of each festival. “It sounds a bit daft, but a year simply isn't long enough - there is an awful lot to do. And a lot of the charities which help us only meet once a year,” he said. “I am talking to people now about what we are going to do in 2009.”

The team was also anxious that the event did not become too much for the village, said Mr Webb.

The 2007 festival cost about £20,000 to stage, much of the cost going on boosting its work with schools and on having an artist in residence - hazel and willow sculptress Juliet Arnott - for a month.

Festival money is raised through donations from councils, national and local charities, National Lottery funds, and business - an area of funding Mr Webb hopes to develop in future to keep the event sustainable.

In the absence of the festival, Welborne is to host other activities this year, including a bottled beer festival in the village hall in July. Mr Webb said there were also plans to hold a combined open gardens and church flower festival in early summer.

Meanwhile, he is drawing up ideas for the 2009 Welborne Festival, fixed for the weekend of June 13-14.

“I would like to think it will again be a mix of visual art, literature, performance and music and that we'll be able to have an artist in residence again and a school project,” he said.

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