Tuesday 12 December 2017

Council to lend €200,000 to secure immediate future of Cork Film Festival

Cork Film Festival
Cork Film Festival
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

An Irish council has voted to lend €200,000 to secure the immediate future of the country's oldest film festival.

Cork City Council has agreed to lend €200,000 to Cork Film Festival after a warning last week that, without the funding, the event faced the possible threat of receivership and the cancellation of future festivals.

This year marks the 61st Cork Film Festival and it is estimated the event brings more than €2.5m to the local economy.

However, despite an ambitious restructuring of the entire festival in 2013, its debt have reached critical levels.

Many of the debts date from the costs involved in the restructuring which aimed to transform it into an event with more broadly based appeal.

Some councillors had argued against extending the loan, warning that the city faced other financial priorities in the housing, roads and infrastructure areas.

However, others warned that the failure to extend the loan could cost the city one of its oldest and most high-profile events.

Lord Mayor Councillor Chris O'Leary said the festival's financial position was exacerbated by the loss of its main sponsor and by under-funding from the Arts Council.

Cork Film Festival received €165,000 in Arts Council backing in 2015 - a level described by the Lord Mayor as far below what such a famous event should receive.

"Sadly, for us, the Arts Council has not supported a number of key organisations in Cork over the last while," he said.

A one hour city council meeting agreed to grant the €200,000 loan as requested to the film festival board.

Under the terms of the agreement, the festival will repay the full loan by 2024.

The vote to sanction the loan was passed by an 18 to eight vote.

The meeting was told the festival, which brings an average of 22,000 film fans to Cork each year, currently has debts of more than €260,000.

The bulk of this is owed to commercial creditors while around €60,000 is owed to banks.

Just €26,000 is owed to the Revenue Commissioners though this debt must be resolved before the next festival takes place.

Councillors are now demanding a strategic plan to ensure the future commercial viability of the event.

The city council will now also seek an overnight role with festival operations.

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