Campaign to save Medway's Fuse festival from being cut

Campaign to save Medway’s Fuse festival from being cut

Medway’s creative arts community and local residents have joined forces in an attempt to stop the Fuse festival from being axed by Medway Council.

A Facebook campaign and an online petition have been gaining support over the last week ahead of tonight’s full council meeting, where the 2015/16 budget will be decided.

In the proposed budget, it is expected to be announced that the Arts Council has withdrawn funding and therefore the festival will not take place.

The festival is well known for its colourful parades, street art, theatre and local workshops which have been taking place across Rochester, Chatham and Gillingham since 2004.

Local writer, Sarah Hehir started the Save the Fuse Festival Facebook campaign which gained 500 ‘likes’ within the first day of being set up.

She said: “Fuse festival is an important part of Medway’s individual identity.

“It attracts a diverse audience and offers something different and exciting from other festivals put on in Medway.

“It’s always the arts that get cut first.”

The campaign has attracted support from across the Medway Towns.

Fuse festival is the most expensive festival held in Medway and has previously received funding from the Arts Council which  has been matched by Medway Council

A Medway Council spokesman said: “The overall budget for Fuse is £215,000, which is more than twice that for any other event in the Festival programme.

“We have been informed that similar austerity measures have affected the Arts Council, which has – with equal regret – had to withdraw completely the £100,000 grant it has made annually to Fuse.”

Medway’s Labour group have come up with an amendment to the proposed budget to reinstate the £115,000 which has been previously earmarked for the festival.

They will present these proposals at tonight’s meeting.

Tony Scudder, a Medway Council candidate for the Rochester West ward, started an online petition to gain public support for the festival.

Mr Scudder said the Fuse festival is “like no other” festival offered in Medway.

 

He feels there are more options to explore in order to avoid axing the festival.

 

The budget will be decided at tonight’s full council meeting at the St George’s Centre, Chatham.

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