Festival set to be ‘best ever’

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ORGANISERS of a popular folklore festival are gearing up for one of their best year’s yet – despite losing £20,000 of funding.

The 47th Billingham International Folklore Festival takes place between August 6 and 13 when the town will welcome eight top music and dance groups from all over the world.

But volunteers have had to tighten their purse strings this year after their budget was hit by the funding blow.

Money towards the annual event had come for many years from the Arts Council for England, but that stopped three years ago.

But it was subsidised through a Stockton Borough Council grant. Due to cuts, the council is not able to provide the same level of funding this year, although it has still been awarded £75,000 by the authority.

It costs around £150,000 to stage the event which is one of the most well attended folk festivals in the country.

Festival director Joe Maloney said: “We’ve lost about £20,000 from our budget.

“We will have to make up the difference through ticket sales or extra sponsorship but it is extremely difficult in the times that we are in.”

But Joe remains upbeat after securing eight international groups to perform.

They will travel to Teesside from Belarus, Costa Rica, Egypt, Georgia, Panama, Russia, Serbia and South Korea.

A number of traditional UK based groups are also set to take part.

He added: “It looks like being one of the best ever on the quality of the groups that we have got.

“Some of them have national standing within their own countries so it looks very good on paper and from the videos we have seen of them.”

The festival has been bringing groups from all corners of the globe together since 1965.

Organisers are appealing for more volunteers to help out during this year’s.

If you would like to get involved, contact Mr Maloney on 07909923173.