One of Wales’s top music festivals is celebrating after clinching a major funding deal.
The North Wales International Music Festival, at St Asaph Cathedral, has secured a £40,000 grant from the North Wales Regional Arts Lottery Fund.
The successful bid came after the Wales Arts Council changed the way it funds festivals.
Organisers believe it is a reward for the “huge success” of last year’s event against all the economic odds.
Audience figures went up by 14 per cent on the previous year at a time when other similar events struggled, with a number of high profile casualties like Bryn Terfel’s Faenol Festival which was cancelled for the second year running.
Artistic Director Ann Atkinson said: “The funding for all festivals will change from them being revenue funded organisations funded by the Arts Council to going into a new pot of funding that comes via the National Lottery.
“In many ways, it will ensure that all festivals are on a level playing field. When you’ve been revenue funded, it’s very scary going out of that comfort zone but it means we are able to do earlier planning and it should work out well for us.
“It was a great delight and relief to find out that our bid for funding had been successful for this year from the North Wales Regional Arts Lottery fund.”
“I felt that we had been supported greatly by the Arts Council and the staff of the North Wales Office.”
“We felt a great sense of support when we were making the transition – they value what we’re doing.
“It is a special event in a very special place and this year will be our 39th year so we are looking forward to our 40th anniversary next year.
“When the late Professor William Matthias, our founder, tried to find the best acoustic in North Wales he chose St Asaph Cathedral.
“The acoustic is exceptional because of the combination of wood and stone. It’s a very crisp and a very clean acoustic which enhances any performance.
“There is a great deal of affection for the festival among our supporters.
“Some of the core audiences have come faithfully every year and many of the stewards are hardy perennials. We’ve also got sponsors who go back to the beginning.
“The performers who come are always very happy to be asked back because the audience creates a very special atmosphere.
“We are certainly not resting on our laurels and we are going all out to get even more people through the doors this year.
“As well as a host of world class performers, we believe in giving a chance to the next generation of musical stars.
“This year we’re hoping to stage Noye’s Fludde (Noah’s Flood) by Benjamin Britten – it will have about 100 schoolchildren in it.
“We’ll also have National Youth Jazz Wales as well so we’ll have quite a young feel to the festival.
“Another important part of the festival is reaching out into the community and getting people in who would never ever have dreamt of coming to the festival.
“The aim is to get them to realise that classical music is very accessible – good music is good music.”
Nick Capaldi, Chief Executive, Arts Council of Wales said: “Our new scheme for funding festivals will allow us to fund the very best of Wales’s engaging, celebratory and inspiring festivals. North Wales International Music Festival aims to bring the finest international classical artists to North Wales.
“Festivals like this are an important part of cultural life for local communities, and for many they can be the highlight of the year.
“We are delighted to support a Festival that plays such role and we are pleased to be supporting the passion and imagination of the programme that the Festival is offering.”