Medway's Fuse festival receives last minute funding

Medway’s Fuse festival receives last minute funding

Medway’s Fuse festival was saved from being axed last night, thanks to last minute funding from the Arts Council.

The festival, which has been held in Medway since 2004, was due to be cut from Medway Council’s budget at last night’s full council meeting.

Funding from the Arts Council, which is usually matched by Medway Council, had originally been cut for 2015/16.

However, a last minute pledge of £40,000 combined with Medway Council’s £45,000 means the festival can take place, albeit on a smaller scale.

The council’s finance chief, Councillor Alan Jarrett announced that £85,000 would go towards the festival as part of the budget so it would continue in a “truncated form.”

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 every summer.

The news was greeted by cheers from the public gallery at last night’s meeting, where campaigners had gathered to voice their opinion on the matter.

A Facebook campaign and an online petition had been set up in support of the festival after the proposed cut in funding was announced at the beginning of February.

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.

We are delighted with the news and thanks to everyone who helped to get our voices heard.

“This campaign shows how powerful our local communities are when we work together.

“The reduced funding will, of course, have an impact on the scale of the festival but if the council have a creative, committed team in place, Fuse will still be the innovative and exciting street festival that we all fought for.”

Medway’s Labour group submitted an amendment to the budget to reinstate the £115,000 that had been earmarked for the event without success.

Leader of the Medway Council Labour group, Councillor Vince Maple said: “The creative arts sector and the wider Medway community made the difference.”

Members of the local creative arts community and Medway residents have taken to Twitter to express their delight and surprise at funding being given to the festival.

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

He said the decision to keep the festival was a success for the local community.

Mr Scudder also hopes the local creative arts community will make up for the cut in funding with more involvement.

Fuse festival will take place Friday, 12 – Sunday, 14 June 2015 across the Medway Towns.