SO Festival will not come to Louth in 2018

Mark Humphreys, Chief Executive at Magna Vitae, spoke at the Louth Town Council meeting last week.
Mark Humphreys, Chief Executive at Magna Vitae, spoke at the Louth Town Council meeting last week.

East Lindsey will see a ‘scaled back’ version of SO Festival next year due to a reduction in funding - and it will be limited to just Mablethorpe and Skegness.

The latest news was explained to Louth Town Council last week, during a presentation from Magna Vitae Trust’s chief executive, Mark Humphreys, and his deputy James Brindle.

Mr Humphreys explained that Magna Vitae’s initial three year contract with East Lindsey District Council (ELDC), to provide culture and leisure services across the district, comes to an end in March - and so, a new business plan has now been drawn up to cover the next five years.

However, ELDC’s requirements of Magna Vitae have now changed, with a strong ‘primary’ focus on running the leisure facilities.

Magna Vitae has been successful in applying for Arts Council funding to run the SO Festival for the next four years - but Mr Humphreys said the funding from ELDC has been ‘significantly reduced’.

Moving forward, Magna Vitae will be looking to work with other partners - and suggested this could include the town council if they wished to explore this option.

However, Mr Humphreys warned: “The SO Festival programme will be smaller in 2018, and it will focus on one weekend.

“We hope that, while that will shrink and rationalise into 2018, it will generate new oxygen for us then to grow and evolve into something new as an event, through 2019-21.”

Mr Humphreys added: “We’re not going to be in a position, with the funding that we currently have available, to do anything inland as part of SO Festival in 2018.”

He hopes that inland attractions can be reinstated in future years, as new partnerships and funding opportunities emerge.

For the first three years, ELDC provided Magna Vitae with £2m per year to cover all of the responsibilities involved, including leisure facilities.

The new business plan, for the next five years, will be reduced by 70 per cent to just £650,000.

As a result, SO Festival’s share of this funding will be reduced from £350,000 per year to just £75,000 per year.

Deputy Leader of the Council, Councillor Graham Marsh, said: “ELDC is working with partners to increase tourism in East Lincolnshire through development of the visitor offer and proactive promotion.

“Due to the funding reductions the Council faces, going forward Magna Vitae will receive a reduced funding contribution from ELDC. This was announced in 2015.

“Unfortunately, given the significant funding reductions the Council faces, it isn’t possible for the Council to fund all the services it once could.

“Working with Magna Vitae, we’ve agreed a £75,000 funding contribution to SO Festival for each of the next four years, and Arts Council England has agreed £150,000 per year for the same period.

“Whilst SO Festival does need to re-focus back to the coast to achieve Arts Council objectives, the event will still bring benefit to the District as a whole, as no doubt visitors to the festival will visit market towns and other inland attractions.”

• SO Festival will take place in the first week of September 2018.