Support for festival after MSP launches scathing attack on organisers

Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin
Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin

Officials from the Scottish Government will provide guidance to the Aberdeen International Youth Festival (AIYF) after a funding contribution from the local authority was axed.

The move was announced by the Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop during Portfolio Questions.

Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin called for the Government to offer any support it could to the festival organisers who will now be facing a funding shortfall in the coming years.

A slim majority of councillors on the council’s Finance Committee voted not to provide an estimated £120,000 to the festival from its 2018/19 budget.

Ms Hyslop told the Chamber help and support would be offered to the organisers in the coming months to look for alternative backers.

She also launched a scathing attack on Tory MSP Tom Mason who said he backed the funding axe, claiming festival numbers were declining and blamed “lacklustre management” which left “much to be desired”.

He called on the Cabinet Secretary to agree that funding would have been “inappropriate” in light of concerns.

Ms Hyslop said it was “inappropriate” for any MSP to attack the management of an organisation.

She added: “This is the national Parliament of Scotland, our job is to create the conditions and strategic leadership and to make sure there is funding in our organisations to drive forward these issues.

“But we have to respect there are many people, many volunteers that are involved in festivals and providing a bit of leadership and support to them is important.”

The annual Aberdeen International Youth Festival (AIYF) has been running since 1973 and has hosted an estimated 30,000 people from all over the world.

Commenting, Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin said: “The Cabinet Secretary has rightly agreed that officials will support the Aberdeen International Youth Festival as it looks for alternative funding measures to plug the gap left by Aberdeen City Council.

“I am appalled that Tom Mason would criticise the organisation leaving them with no opportunity to defend themselves. Its particularly galling given that so many involved with the festival are volunteers giving up their free time.

“The events put together have attracted thousands of people to the North-East and have been going since 1973 bringing a diverse and vibrant culture to Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire inspiring generations of young people.

“Mr Mason should apologise to the festival organisers, and participants who’ve been left with an uncertain future thanks to the decision by his Tory-led coalition.”