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INTERVIEW: Morecambe champion of arts speaks about "heartbreaking" decision to axe kite festival

The Catch the Wind kite festival will not take place this year

A champion of the arts in Morecambe has spoken to Beyond Radio about the difficult decision not to run the town's popular kite festival this year.

Kathryn MacDonald, executive director of More Music, said they simply don't have the funding to run the festival in summer 2024.

The 'Catch the Wind' event has run for 20 years and pulls huge crowds to watch people fly kites from the beach near the Midland hotel. It attracts both amateur and professional kite flyers, as well as musicians and other performers.

Fans of the festival have reacted with sadness since the decision to axe it was announced last Friday.

Speaking to Beyond Radio this week, Kathryn (pictured below) said: "It costs a lot of money to do the kind of event that we want to do.

"The last two years it's been much smaller than it was previously. We're really grateful to have Arts Council money but it's been at a standstill for six years.

"We're not funded to do the kite festival. It was something that we wanted to do and we simply don't have the resources to do that (right now). We have to prioritise our community and educational work, our work with young and older people, we're not resourced to put on a major event and the local authority didn't have the money to support it. That's the sad story.

"Last year we did a Spacehive crowdfunder with Lancashire County Council and we did pretty well but it was so last minute. We didn't know if we'd have the money until a month before. That's a very hard way to work. So what we lack is long-term funding and capacity for planning.

"We've subsidised these events and it's a shame, it's heartbreaking but it's been amazing. Look at the pictures we've got out of it, look at the times people have had, look at the energy and colour it's brought to the town. We're really proud of it but to make a watered-down version doesn't feel like the right thing. I'd hate it to get to that point that 'it used to be really good but now it's not'. It's better in a way to decide not to do it this year because you can't compromise on quality."

Kathryn said the event costs 30,000 to run and although More Music is "very grateful" to local councils for awarding grant money in previous years, this funding simply wasn't enough to keep the event going.

"We found the rest through our own means and we don't have the capacity to do that (this year). It's sad. And we understand that local authorities don't have the money they used to have, they are so under resourced due to government decisions."

Kathryn also said there was hope for the future that the festival might return.

"Never say never. It is heartbreaking to have to not to do it, but there has to be a different model. We've got a building to run and a programme of incredible work that we have to deliver. But Morecambe lends itself beautifully to that kind of festival, the kite flyers say it's the best because of that view, and that beach, and they enjoy how we deliver it."

Kathryn is stepping down from her role in March, and will be leaving More Music (pictured below) after 28 years.

Kathryn's work includes founding the Catch the Wind Kite Festival (which she started with local residents, Mike Boardley and Melody Treasure) and then producing it with the More Music team for 20 years.

During the interview she spoke about her time at More Music, her decision to leave and her plans for the future.

LISTEN to the full interview here

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