VIBRANT festivals that have become a key part of Worcester's calendar may no longer go ahead after the city was denied government money to pay for them. 

A string of events including the Light Night, Same But Different, The Rising and Atmosphere festivals are all now under threat after a funding snub for Worcester.

The festivals were described as making Worcester a 'destination city' - but may now fall by the wayside because the city is no longer classed as a ‘priority’ for arts funding.

Worcester was among the first five towns and cities to benefit from the initial round of the government’s ‘cultural development fund’ four years ago which financed the bulk of the work to convert some of the city’s railway arches into new cultural hubs.

The fund helped stage the festivals to coincide with the multi-million-pound renovation of the arches and supported other projects such as the Worcester Carnival, Worcester Mela, Worcester Music Festival and Love the Arbo.

Worcester News:

Cllr Jabba Riaz, who helped organise the city’s first-ever Mela festival in 2022, now wants to lobby for more money to make sure the festivals continue to go ahead.

The former mayor said Worcester was a “little city with a limited record” in hosting high-profile festivals and the “trailblazing” arts funding helped put the city on the map.

“We have become a destination city and we cannot let the hopes and dreams of thousands disappear,” he told councillors in the Guildhall earlier this week.

Worcester News:

Cllr Lynn Denham, the leader of the council’s Labour group, said the festivals had given a “voice and identity to some of our communities for the first time.”

“We don’t want these events and the Arches festivals to fade into a distant memory,” she said.

The city actually played host to a ‘celebration’ of the government-funded projects with the Guildhall chosen as the venue for a recent meeting between dozens of national arts organisations and cultural experts.

“You can imagine the surprise, and the irony, that when we were highlighting the brilliant success of the programme in Worcester, that I discovered that Worcester was to receive no further funding from the Arts Council as it was not deemed a ‘priority’ place,” Cllr Riaz added.

Cllr Chris Mitchell, the Tory leader of the city council, said he was ‘happy to send a letter’ to lobby for more money, and while everybody was disappointed by the snub, the funding promised was always “time-limited” and the festivals needed to be self-sufficient to continue.

Cllr Mitchell instead took glee in the council’s Labour leader and deputy leader praising the government for awarding the money in the first place.

“We’re more than happy to support writing a letter to lobby for additional funding, because we see the value in it but, of course, this money has never come before so we should be thankful to the Conservative government for what they’ve given to us,” he said.