Broadisland Gathering ‘needs more support’

Broadisland Gathering parade in Ballycarry. INLT 36-041-PSB
Broadisland Gathering parade in Ballycarry. INLT 36-041-PSB

The Broadisland Gathering festival needs greater local support if it is to continue after this year, a public meeting in Ballycarry has heard.

Organisers are planning for the 25th Gathering, which will take place in August and September 2017.

But they say that this is, as ever, dependent on grant funding and sponsorship, with the present grants situation unclear owing to the situation with Stormont not functioning.

But beyond 2017, organisers say that there needs to be greater support from local people prepared to volunteer to help the event.

And funding remains a major issue as the festival has to be non-profit making in order to attract grants.

This means that it cannot hold reserves for the next year’s event and grants are downscaled if profit is made.

A public meeting on the future of the Gathering was held in Ballycarry Community Centre last week and was mainly attended by committee members of the local community association.

The organisers say that the need for more local volunteers to assist is one of the key aspects of moving forward.

But another is the ability to attract funding for the event, which was established in 1993.

The public meeting gave local people the opportunity to address the contribution of the Gathering to the local community, as well as offer opinions on the future.

There was consensus that the festival had been good for Ballycarry and that it had helped the local economy and has brought a wealth of musical talent to the area.

Those present also noted that visitors from across the world attend the event, and that it has helped to put the village on the map.

But while everyone present wanted to see the event continue, they felt that unless more people offer help it would be best to bring down the curtain after the 25th anniversary.

Organisers say they hoped for greater buy-in to the event from the entire community,