Festivals team loses over half its staff to redundancies

The pandemic has taken its toll on Harrogate International Festivals, (HIF) which has confirmed it has had to make some of its staff redundant.

A spokesman for the organisation said: “We cannot survive without income, yet our most vital revenue streams disappeared overnight.

“Incredibly sad decisions have had to be made. Following consultation, over half the HIF team has been made redundant, reducing our already small core to four. There will undoubtedly be further difficult decisions ahead.

“As a registered charity, and even before Covid-19, we were responsible for raising 98% of our income through ticket sales, sponsorship, collaborations and donations.

“That constant challenge has meant we have always worked within a strong business framework to raise these less than robust income streams, but the sheer scale of the pandemic and its repercussions have left the festivals sector reeling and we are not immune.”

Fiona Movley, chair of Harrogate International Festivals, said: “Whilst we are often recognised as an extremely resilient organisation, agile and adaptable for over 50 years, times are still extremely challenging and HIF unfortunately did not qualify for the recent emergency Arts Council England grants that have been reported in the media.”

“Between March and August this year, HIF took a hit of £850,000 through lost revenues, ticket sales, hospitality closures and sponsorship.

“It is clear as we look ahead to the coming months, and see no signs of change for our arts charity, it is now, perhaps more than ever before, that we turn to our sponsors and supporters to continue this vital work.”

The group says it saw its entire summer season of events cancelled. Though it has managed to use its reserves to stage a series of broadcast and online programmes.

Sharon Canavar, CEO of HIF, said: “Our priority over the last seven months has been ensuring delivery of the arts to local Harrogate people bring the light of the arts into the darkness.

“We are more than a series of events; we are at the heart of Harrogate’s cultural life and have been a magnet and income generator for local tourism for more than 50 years.

“We remain optimistic that Harrogate International Festivals can and will continue to provide the highest quality events online, until such a time we can personally share more cultural experiences together.

“In the meantime, if we are to survive we urgently ask for your continued support and appreciation of Harrogate International Festivals and its crucial role in our town’s cultural, economic and social future.”