ONE of Liverpool's most popular events has been cancelled after a cash shortfall of “a remarkably small amount” put public safety at risk.
And it has since emerged that its future is in doubt for 2014.
Hope Street Feast has taken place every September since 2005, and has attracted up to 30,000 people a year.
Supported by local businesses The self-styled “village fete” combines street market and street theatre with indoor and outdoor musical performances from bands and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as food and drink events in many of Hope Street's upmarket bars and restaurants.
Unlike most of the other large-scale, free public events in Liverpool, the Feast is run by a group of volunteers who include prominent event professionals based both in Liverpool and internationally.
Most of the funding has come from some, but by no means all, businesses in what was recently voted the UK's best street by the Academy of Urbanism.
But this year, a shortfall of just £10,000 to pay for traffic management, road closures and security means the street will be silent.
Liverpool Confidential understands that while there was support for the Feast from politicians and officials in many quarters of Liverpool City Council, for funding purposes it does not qualify as a cultural event.
A spokesman told Liverpool Confidential: “I can't pretend it wasn't a tearful decision.
“It's a remarkably small amount but without it, it would be irresponsible to proceed. We've had a situation where everybody gets paid except the organisers. That's fine, we've been happy to work on that basis in the past just for the love of seeing it go ahead."
Ian Prowse and Jennifer John
among the many Hope
Street Feast performersHe added: “We were even out of pocket on it in 2012. But this year we have tried to call in as many favours as possible and the money has not been forthcoming.
“We were told by the city's main grant-funding officer that it was not a cultural event and could not qualify for money that way.
“It's a phenomenal amount of work to put together in spare time. Any other event like this would have someone being paid to organise it.”
In a statement, Hope Street Feast Limited said: “Hope Street Feast relies on enormous goodwill and input of effort and resources from many individuals and organisations, and a small but essential amount of funding support. Whilst the goodwill remains, in 2012 most of the essential funding became unavailable to us, and remains unavailable in 2013.
“Although we had a great 2012 Hope Street Feast we do not have a sustainable basis for the 2013 event without compromising the safety and quality of the event, and have therefore decided that it would be irresponsible to proceed this year.
“The voluntary board will instead use its efforts in 2013 to determine how future Feasts will be sustained.”
But as of now, the future is far from certain.
The spokesman told Confidential: “People are naturally disappointed and are asking will it be back in 2014. We don't honestly know, right now. The Feast takes place on the weekend in September when the students come back and the Phil season starts. It's a natural date.
The RLPO performs at the Feast“However by next year, the Philharmonic Hall will be closed for refurbishment. There will also be a lot of students moving into the new apartments on Hope Street that weekend, and for all sorts of logistical reasons it may well be impossible to close the roads.”
Actor and musician Mike Neary was one one of the regular performers last night lamenting the loss of the event.
He said: “The quality of performance, food, service and above all organisation is unequalled at any point in the calendar. A world class event completely free of charge with the most wonderful spirit among those wandering around one of the most coveted locations in Europe.
“This makes no sense whatsoever. It is as ludicrous as building a block of flats next to the Philharmonic Hall.”
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