Gigha to miss out on funding for dark skies festival

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Argyll and Bute Council is to grant almost £30,000 to strategic events and festivals across the area – but a Gigha stargazing festival looks set to loose out in its bid to secure £1,600.

Winter festivals in Oban and Helensburgh, and the Tiree Music Festival, are set to receive the maximum £5,000 award from the latest round of the council’s Strategic Events and Festivals (SEF) Fund, a report has revealed.

The Argyllshire Gathering, in Oban, is earmarked for £4,800, while £4,000 grants are recommended for the Bute Noir literary festival, and the Sea Change Powering Women In Film event, also in Tiree.

Completing the round of recommended grants, Tarbert Music Festival is set to be awarded £2,000, bringing the total amount of recommended grants to £29,800.

But a bid for £1,600 by the Dark Skies Gigha Stargazing Festival was recommended for refusal as it does not meet the criteria for funding.

Each grant will only be awarded upon confirmation that the event is going ahead. The report was due to go before the council’s policy and resources committee at its meeting yesterday (Thursday June 16).

On the decision not to recommend funding for the stargazing event, council executive director Kirsty Flanagan said: ‘Dark Skies Gigha Stargazing Festival is a new event and seeks to take advantage of the fact that the Isle of Gigha is uniquely placed as a recognised Dark Sky Discovery site of Milky Way Class.

‘The organisers have stated that it is proposed to grow this event over the next few years to attract visitors from across the UK and possibly beyond.

‘However, for the first year the focus is on the community of Gigha with only a very small number, 10 in total, indicated as coming from outwith the local area.

‘The event in its current form cannot therefore be classed as strategic as it will not have the capacity to attract people from outwith the area, nor will it have a focus on national and international visitors, nor generate significant economic benefits for the local community.’

Ms Flanagan added that despite the recommendation, it was hoped the stargazing festival was a success and if it grew, it could be considered for future SEF Fund rounds.