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Council refuses Folk Club, Theatre Club funding

Scilly's Council will not help support the upcoming Folk Festival or One Act Play Festival from its Community Fund this year.

The Isles of Scilly Folk Club had applied for £1,500 for an expanded 2019 Folk Festival, while Theatre Club requested £315 to support this year's One Act Play Festival and a further £300 for the next two years.

The Council's £3,500 annual Community Fund is designed to give financial assistance to any organisation "where it considers this will be likely to promote the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of the islands".

Although Members originally voted to support the Folk Club application at yesterday's Full Council meeting, they changed their minds after Cllr Joel Williams spoke out against the decision.

He said: "I’ve got little sympathy for either application, to be perfectly honest. Folk Club have had it five years out of six. Theatre Club are applying for £300 when they have £11,500 in the bank already. It doesn’t seem a particularly innovative way for us to use our funding.

"I'd like to propose a third recommendation that as an Authority we undertake a full review of the Community Fund process to assess whether it offers best value for money. it just seems like we get the same people asking for the same funding for the same thing year after year. I’m very conscious there’s all sorts of great causes out there who might not be aware of this who haven’t had funding for five out of six years, don’t have £11,500 in the bank, so it just seems to me a bit unimaginative to say the least."

Cllr Fran Grottick agreed, saying: "With the state of our Council funding at the moment we should be monitoring issues like this so I’m happy to support your recommendation, Cllr Williams."

Cllr Williams explained his stance to Cllr Steve Sims, who had been out of the room during the discussion.

He said: "It seems wrong to me to be giving [Theatre Club] an amount of money when they seem pretty well off by any small club standards. I also made the point that Folk Club have had funding from this pot of money for five out of the last six years. It almost seems to be a bit of a dependency and I think there are more innovative, more worthwhile, more valuable projects out there that we could support.

"It almost seems like clubs who know about this get their finger in the pie. It doesn’t seem like best use of what is a small pot of money that could make a big difference to some other groups."

The Folk Club vote was taken again, with Cllrs Sims and Watt opting to allocate the money to the group as originally agreed. The remaining Members voted against, with the exception of Cllr Grottick, who abstained from voting on both applications

All Members except Cllrs Watts and Grottick then voted against approving Theatre Club's application (Cllr Sims had declared an interest and was unable to vote).

A new recommendation from Cllr Williams was then unanimously agreed - that there be a "review of the process and the criteria for allocation to ensure effective and efficient use of funding including promotion and marketing of the Community Fund to wider groups".

The Council has previously agreed to give £700 per year to the Christmas Lights fund for the remainder of its term.

Whether it is legal for Members to change their minds when a vote has already been taken is currently being assessed by the Council's Monitoring Officer.

Watch the discussion in the video below:

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