Folk festival to lose £18,000 charitable trust funding

logo-2015cGrant funding from Shetland Charitable Trust to the Shetland Folk Festival will end over the next four years, creating an £18,000 void for festival organisers to fill.

Habadekuk had the Bigton crowd on its feet. From left: Rasmus Fribo, Kristian Bugge, Soren Lund and Peter Eget. Photo: Dave Donaldson
Habadekuk performing at this year’s folk festival. Photo: Dave Donaldson

The complete withdrawal of core funding from the trust is being made as it attempts to curb its spending. Currently, the trust earns £8.5 million a year, but pays out £10 million.

The overspend has led to a new set of principles which will see the trust “prioritise” future funding.

Continuing to benefit from trust support will be:

• Services provided by the three large trusts.
• Where possible, people in need through age, disability or circumstances within the isles.
• Where possible, the core revenue costs of organisations who support people in need through age, disability or circumstances within the isles.

Trust chairman, Bobby Hunter said: “The trustees want to direct the funding to activities which will improve the lives of the people of Shetland.”

Festival supporters learned of the decision through an email from organisers, which warned the “complete” withdrawal of core funding.

“Whilst we are optimistic about sourcing alternative finance to fill this £18,000 void, it is sensible for us to continually review all aspects of the festival we stage each year and how we operate.”

The Shetland Times will be investigating the issue of charitable trust funding in more detail for a reprot in next week’s paper.

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Add Your Comment
  • john irvine

    • June 5th, 2015 13:57

    £18,000 is only a very small fraction of the money thrown at the white elephant the is VE, will the Charitable Trust now do the proper thing and cut this funding as well?

  • David Spence

    • June 5th, 2015 14:10

    I think it is terrible that the SCT are cutting funding for one of Shetlands biggest assets in attracting people from all over the world to play and take part in Shetland’s largest music festival. The ramifications of such action could spill over onto Shetlander’s wishing to learn traditional music as well as other genre’s.

    How many Folk Festivals could Shetland have with the 11 million plus pounds the SCT have wasted on a project which will never get off the ground due to the massive costs of such a project. I am, of course, referring to the Viking Energy Project, and the ridiculous situation the SCT is in, in paying staff for a business that does not exist…………it would be laughable if it was not true, but sadly it is.

    Shetland great culture of music spans generations, and it is such a shame this could be put in jeopardy because the SCT is forced to make savings due to so much money already going in for the Viking Energy Project……..I suspect.

    The SCT need to get their priorities right……..I am sure music, the Folk Festival and many other festivals are now, probably, in suspension due to this latest act by the SCT?

    The SCT is supposed to be there to support Shetland businesses and traditional cultural identities, but this action is proving this is not the case.

  • Jenny Henry

    • June 5th, 2015 14:15

    ‘ Trust chairman, Bobby Hunter said: “The trustees want to direct the funding to activities which will improve the lives of the people of Shetland.” ‘

    – sorry Bobby, but the Folk Festival has certainly improved my life over the last 36 years! Although the festival itself might be held over only one weekend each year, the musical and social benefits – friendships, collaborations, sharing, educating etc – created through it are continuous and should be valued and appreciated.

    I think the SCT is making a very poor decision here.

  • Michael Garriock

    • June 5th, 2015 17:49

    We’ve already had the Pensioner’s Bonus vanish, the Amenity Trust bemoan funding reduction, and the kerfuffle over funding rural Care Homes. Today its the Folk festival, tomorrow it’ll be the Children’s Befriending Scheme, COPE, CAB, Disability Recreational Club, Accordion & Fiddle Festival, Churches Trust, SRT, Swan Trust, VAS and the numerous grant schemes the SCT runs.

    This is the reality of VE, a high risk speculative investment that may or may not turn a profit in the end, and certainly won’t bring anything of worth to the current generation using services funded by the SCT.

    Its not rocket science, everything needs paring back to the bone to finance VE. SCT were I believe spending higher than income already which would have caused some of these cuts regardless, but to exacerbate the problem they now need to remove a significant percentage of their currently earning capital, reducing their income proportionatly, and leave it lying as “dead money” in a behemoth that can’t and won’t pay out a penny for several years, if ever.

    Talk about an all or nothing bet.

    • Steven Jarmson

      • June 10th, 2015 18:10

      This is the price of destroying our landscape.
      The Scottish Government should have stopped this years ago, the council should have stopped this years ago, the SCT should have stopped this years ago.
      If VE is to work, and I’m not saying it wont, all the stuff that’s still being spoken about should have been sorted at the outset, not 10years in!!

      It is a bet, a very big bet, and as a betting man, I wouldn’t put my money on it.

      I would put my money into things that benefit the wider community and economy.

  • George Smith, Breasclete Sandwick

    • June 5th, 2015 17:50

    I often feel that those responsible for public funds know the cost of everything but the value of nothing

  • Gordon Harmer

    • June 5th, 2015 19:19

    This is crazy, for a mere £18,000 investment the local economy gains up to a quarter of a million pounds how does that not improve the lives of the people of Shetland?

  • iantinkler

    • June 5th, 2015 22:01

    Well, what can one say, VEP leaches funds on a speculative hope that a very few fat cats will get a bit richer. A handful of Trustees and Councillors want the easy riches their parents enjoyed and sadly mostly squandered. Now we are in austerity and absolutely nothing will alter that. The Nationalists have alienated most people South of the border, what chance is there of £1 billion plus, will ever being spent on “The Interconnector”. A cool £1 billion, just to create the most expensive electricity in Europe, for the sole benefit only the Scots and at the expense of everyone else in the UK. All this at a time the Nationalist fight to leave the UK and may just succeed. What sane UK Government would ever squander £1 Billion that way? SCT trustees get your heads from where the sun don’t shine. Use your funds for Shetland, not a SNP pipe dream and folly that would destroy the heart of beautiful Shetland.

  • Johan Adamson

    • June 8th, 2015 9:12

    Could the folk festival attract sponsorship so it can stand on its own two feet? I think the tickets are expensive for families as it is so increasing the charges is not really an option. If Northlink and Flybe could provide deals on the transport and a hotel provide a deal on accommodation?

    Could funds from SCT be provided to Shetland Arts so that they can give grants for festivals? Especially festivals which promote traditional music and craft and tourism?

  • Jim Leaks

    • June 8th, 2015 19:23

    Johan….Northlink do provide sponsorship to the festival already. The amazing amount of voluntary work that is put in to the festival, shows the huge difficulty of making a festival of this calibre in Shetland financially viable.

    The Folk Festival has an extremely hard working committee that will without a doubt be feeling this greatly, especially in light of the fact that they were not consulted before hand to have a chance to put a case forward for the benefits that there Festival has in the wider community.

    Were the SCT aware of one of the FREE concerts that the Folk Festival lay on for residents of Shetland that surely fit very well into the groups they identified as those who were most in need of their funding. Each year the Folk Festival lay on concerts with no charge at one or two schools (rotated each year including rural schools), the Eric Gray Centre (for adults with additional support needs an disabilities), Bells Brae Primary School Additional Support Needs Unit, as well as a Playgroup Concert, half a dozen Workshops and this year there was a visit to Montfield hospital. There is also the free Opening Concert.

    These concerts are a highlight of the year for so many bairns, old folk and folk with disabilities and additional support needs.

    It just makes me winder……..should the running o da SCT maybe be passed on to the SFF committee? Although, they’ll maybe no thank me for that idea in da Burns Lane office!

    • Johan Adamson

      • June 9th, 2015 9:15

      Im sure the committee is very hard working. Is it the cost of the bands and things like Islesburgh costs which requires this funding and makes it difficult to do without this money? I guess the free concerts will now have to stop? As a toddler mam I attended that concert afore, Im sure the parents would not mind a small charge for that event.

      • Jim Leask

        • June 10th, 2015 1:01

        I don’t know any particulars about cost break down, but the cost of booking bands, transport, hire of equipment and PA (which I believe is quite expensive), payment of technicians, payment of venue’s….these costs soon mount up. There are also printing costs, advertising, office costs etc for the Festival to think of, and probably many more I have no idea about.
        My point regarding the range of additional free concerts, was that it was inclusive and permitted many bairns, old folk and people with additional support needs/disabilities, to see the concert when they other wise may well not have. The education and care sector facilities of the SIC, whose client groups benefit greatly from this enriching experience, are already hard pushed to find enough money to offer the level of services we would all want to see, what about them Johan? I would happily pay for my bairns to see the Playgroup concert, many are not in as fortunate position to be able to afford to do so. Within the groups that the SCT says it wants to support, surely it is clear to see that the wonderfully cultural and uplifting musical events laid on for free by the SFF, allows a large number of Shetland residents each year within the target group to experience something that enriches their lives?
        Hopefully no more SCT money will be spent on VE before the outcome of Westminster’s announcement to end onshore wind farm subsidies is heard?

      • Johan Adamson

        • June 10th, 2015 8:57

        I totally agree. But is there any appeal to them to re-instate this money? The committee will have to fill in maybe a grant form for another organisation to replace this money. You would think the SCT would have an official set of rules and forms for applying for funding from them. I also hope no more money is spent on VE before it is assessed by professionals as the ‘right investment’ for SCT (since they seem so short of money it would appear that it is not).

        My point re Islesburgh is that if they pay them £18,000 for the festival club, then really SCT is withdrawing funding from Islesburgh as much as from the Folk Festival. Im sure a hall/ hotel could take this on and be paid in bar proceeds?

      • Steven Jarmson

        • June 10th, 2015 18:01

        There would probably be an appeals process, but what’s the point?
        The SCT have set out their objectives and the SFF doesn’t fully fit into that. I understand Jims point about the free concerts hitting their target groups, but in view of the SCT I would assume they would view the funds a potentially being used for non-target groups benefit.
        When you think about the costs, £18,000 shouldn’t be much in relation to the whole festival, it should also be quite straight forward to get funding from else where.
        Sponsorship, additional fund raising concerts throughout the year, as used to happen, add a little to the ticket price, pay a little less to some of the acts(that’s a tough one, but the prestige of the folk festival could just about swing it). Perhaps the committee could meet the artists at this end instead of travelling to Aberdeen to meet them? There’s many ways to make up this money.
        But, as I’ve already said, and everyone else has said, to cut £18k when they’re think if spending multiple millions on VE is just ridiculous!!

  • Steven Jarmson

    • June 10th, 2015 14:02

    Could they not cover this funding loss by adding £1 to each ticket sold?
    If they fill The Clickimin and Legion each night they would be a good way to covering this loss of income, add in the other venues plus possibly add £1 to the membership price too and that would surely cover this loss of income.
    The Folk Festival is the most popular public event in Shetland, for the price of a nip or a half pint I’m sure most people wouldn’t mind paying that little extra to keep the finances of the Festival healthy.

    I do disagree with the SCT cutting funding to popular, Shetland promoting events whilst still agreeing to fund VE.
    Would they not be better cutting the VE expenses, fund local events and offer everyone grants to everyone who wants a small windmill to cut their power bills?
    That would save us all money!!!

    • Johan Adamson

      • June 11th, 2015 9:01

      The reason the Yell community windfarm is so much better, even able to justify the blot on the landscape, is that the community are actually getting the electricity and the money for the community, unlike VE where we are not getting cheaper power and have no say if we dont agree with how the SCT spend any profits (shared with SSE).

      • Steven Jarmson

        • June 12th, 2015 10:23

        Couldn’t agree more.
        I’ve said for years now, why not have local community power generation program, the local community would get to vote if the want a small scale renewable in their area, its them who would have the benefits and drawbacks.
        The Yell project is the perfect example, although no vote was used, but its still a good example if a community helping themselves.

      • John Tulloch

        • June 12th, 2015 13:08

        I agree in principle, Steven, however, the Yell venture is not intended for Yell people’s supplies, it’s far too big and will need a fairly hefty submarine cable from Yell to the mainland, as well as the major VE submarine cable to Scotland.

        As we know “somebody” will have to pay for those or it won’t go ahead.

  • iantinkler

    • June 10th, 2015 21:05

    Be in no doubt whatsoever, the idiotic VE project has already wasted £10.0 million plus of SCT funds. A purely speculative venture which without, the fabled and looking progressively more fictional; “interconnector”, will fail, a total waste of funds. Look at the makeup of the SCT from top to bottom, including Trustees and Executives, not all, but most are so committed so to the VE project, they are tied to it by the g><:@)(*s. They have wasted so much money they will never pull the plug, rather like a compulsive gambler, they will throw money at it until broke, and irrespective of who else suffers. So much precious and unique to Shetland be lost and all will l all suffer due to this blinkered compulsion. Our distant political overseers in Edinburgh, with their compulsion to sell green energy, care nothing about local environmental destruction, like the SCT, mammon above all.

    • John Tulloch

      • June 11th, 2015 13:48

      Vattenfall have pulled out of their Aegir marine power project, why would they do that if there’s a submarine cable coming?

      The new energy and climate change secretary Amber Rudd’s priority seems – rightly – to be reducing the cost of consumers’ bills, maybe that had something to do with it?

    • Steven Jarmson

      • June 12th, 2015 10:29

      Green energy payed for by oil is the SNP plan.
      Oh the irony!!
      Instead of folks wasting money trying to oust Carmichael could they not sue SCT for throwing away what is public money.
      When the SCT was moved to be more independent it should have been a fully elected body, elected by Shetlanders for Shetlanders.
      Once we’re merged with the Highlands the Scottish Government will no doubt say local trysts must become regional trusts, then all our money will be gone.

  • Peter Gabb

    • June 11th, 2015 11:51

    The costs of the SFF could be reduced by the ferries and the planes giving the musicians a free berth/flight and also it is about time the Government stopped putting a tax on musicians coming to play here from abroad, we are supposed to be a country that encourages the different cultures of the world’s youth and music is certainly should be most welcome.

  • Alvin Leong

    • June 12th, 2015 10:44

    I am shocked, disgusted and outraged by this news, all at the same time!

    I am pretty sure that none of the real festivals such as Glastonbury or T in the Park needs charity money to prop them up. In fact, Glastonbury raised £2m for charities in 2013. Even without needing a charity pumping money into them, they are successful with world class acts by well known names. If the SFF is as good as some people claim, then why does it need charity to be paying them to stay afloat?

    Even more disturbing, there are also demands for Northlink and/or Loganair to get people to the SFF for a discount or even free? Who is going to pay then? The poor sod in the cabin next door or on the next seat! Then this poor sod, who had to pay for a freeloader, go on to stage a campaign against high travel prices. A better suggestion is to use LK243 to get people to SFF for free, not make the poor fare paying sod pay for some freeloader going to a party.

  • David Spence

    • June 12th, 2015 12:56

    It would be good to have a look at the revenue the SFF brings into the islands and compare this to the expenses submitted by performing artists and other associated costs? As well as this, what exactly this £18,000 is paying for?

    As far as I am to believe, most of the staff at the SFF do this work voluntarily, so what other expenses are incurred or is this £18,000 (excluding sales tickets) for other expenses we do not know about?

    I am pretty sure the SFF could easily finance itself if push came to shove, and for other organisations to attract artists could do their bit by offering much cheaper fares to cut down the costs for the SFF.

    If many of the staff are voluntary, why is this not the case for the management of the SFF? If they believe in bringing business into the islands, if they believe in promoting Shetland music, if they believe in expanding the SFF into other parts of the islands, then surely this is a worthy task which, I suspect, would bring in far greater rewards than just the £18,000 the SFF is dependent on…………or is it?

    • Alvin Leong

      • June 12th, 2015 14:08

      2005, Glastonbury, Oxfam provided 2000 volunteers stewards and received £200,000 in donation in return for their work.

      If what you said is true, I wonder how much did SCT get back from SFF?

  • Kevin Henderson

    • June 20th, 2015 8:49

    David Spence – The committee is also voluntary, if its the committee you are to referring to as voluntary. They don’t take a penny for the countless hours they work all year round to bring world renowned musicians in the folk music scene to Shetland to provide first class entertainment for the people of Shetland.
    The expenses consist of travel such as flights, ferry, ground transport, musician fees, hiring of halls, venues etc, PA hire, insurances and much more that I’m sure you can access somewhere.
    Don’t really get your last paragraph as all of the staff are voluntary, they committee works passionately on a purely voluntary basis for the benefit of the people of Shetland i.e. they want to bring a fantastic event for the people of Shetland as a whole to enjoy which brings money in to all the areas of Shetland.
    Of course they believe in promoting shetland music!!
    The local musicians are a huge and integral part of the festival, always has been and always will be as long as the festival is going. For me personally as a youngster getting to share a stage with world famous folk musicians is something I will be eternally grateful for in my development as a musician.

    “expanding the SFF into other parts of the islands” – This is something the festival has done from day one! i.e. bringing the festival to all of Shetland so I don’t understand your statement about expanding to other parts??

  • Kevin Henderson

    • June 20th, 2015 8:49

    Alvin Leong – Are you actually for real??? Comparing the Shetland Folk Festival to a festival such as Glastonbury!!!! My god that is an absolute belter of a comparison!!!
    Glastonbury gets 175,000 paying folk through their gates!!!
    thats between 7 and 8 times the population of Shetland!!!!!

    I work as a full time musician and I am lucky enough to get to travel all over the world to various festivals, concerts etc.
    I can tell you 99% of the festivals are purely reliant on funding to be able to exist, especially those held in remote areas.
    To say they should be able to stand on their own 2 feet is quite a statement.
    Do you realise the overheads involved in running a festival, let alone a festival in a remote place like Shetland.
    We are talking about a sum of £18,000 that will be taken away. This is not a large sum of money for the charitable trust but it goes a long way to help with the overheads in running this event.
    My late father worked as a volunteer on the folk festival committee and I saw first hand how much of his own time he dedicated, along with the other committee members, organising the Shetland folk festival which I can tell you is world famous in folk music circles.

  • Kevin Henderson

    • June 20th, 2015 8:50

    You might not be into folk music but there is a lot of people all over the world that are.
    World famous musicians want to come to the festival and end up leaving having had one of the best weekends of their lives.
    They end up feeling like an adopted Shetlander and I can tell you that from what countless visiting artists have told me with how they are taken into the community and how welcome they are made to feel.
    Its not every event that gives musicians that kind of experience.

    • John Tulloch

      • June 20th, 2015 10:27

      Well said, on all your comments, Kevin.

      It’s the wrong time of year for Scrooge comparisons but there’s a powerful sense of “Bah! Humbug!” about both Alvin Leong and David Spence’s comments on this.

      I’m not a big fan of folk music but I can see £18,000 is “pennies” for the true value to Shetland of this great event.

  • David Spence

    • June 20th, 2015 14:40

    I am not in any way criticizing the Folk Festival or what it does for Shetland, I was just merely inquiring as to why the SCT was cutting the funds to such an event, and will this cut have serious consequences in holding the event in the future?

    The Folk Festival is a great event, and I have been to various venues during the time it is on and had a fantastic time and experience in listening to all forms of folk music from around the world.

    I was also inquiring, and I admit I did not know this, whether or not the main management of the SFF were being payed. I apologize if I got it wrong in regards too this.

    In light of this terrible news, I do hope the SFF can be self financing in its efforts to expand Shetland and Folk music as a whole, and still continue to put of a fantastic, enriching and unforgettable musical event.

    • John Tulloch

      • June 20th, 2015 18:59


      Here’s what you wrote: “If many of the staff are voluntary, why is this not the case for the management of the SFF?”

      i.e. You asserted that the SFF management are “not voluntary”, did you not?


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