Despite Welsh banding enjoying a historic year of achievement in 2013, the precarious financial stability of two of the three Welsh League contests hosted by the South East Wales Brass Band Association has been highlighted in an open letter to member bands.
Serious financial implications
SEWBBA Secretary Colin Evans has written to express his concern about the ‘serious financial implications’ that face the Association in 2014 and beyond following further cuts in local authority budgets, reductions in grant allocations to funding bodies and even donations.
It is understood that the support previously offered by Blaenau Gwent Council and the Blaenavon Regeneration Partnership which helped meet the costs of hiring halls for SEWBBA contests held in Ebbw Vale and Blaenavon will no longer be available, whilst a substantial yearly personal donation has also come to an end.
Colin Evans has informed member bands that, ‘...as a result of cuts...it is clear that in future, we will either have to hire a hall and finance the contest ourselves – or, at the very last underwrite losses.’
This could well mean that Association having to find an extra £1,000 plus for each contest in hire fees alone, whilst still finding money for essential refurbishment of many of its historic trophies.
Bands and individuals have now been asked to come up with possible proposals to be put forward at the forthcoming Annual General Meeting in January, with a number of ideas already under consideration.
These include a general increase in affiliation fees or contest entry fees, although it is hoped that bands may accept an alternative proposal of dispensing with the current provision of prize money (which amounts to roughly £2,250 per contest).
It is envisaged that this saving could then be used to provide the overall Welsh League champion and runner-up in each section with annual awards — although this would require agreement from colleagues at the West Wales BB Association, who run one of the three League contests per year.
The Welsh League is one of the foundation stones on which banding in the Principality has flourished in recent yearsSEWBBA Secretary Colin Evans
Speaking exclusively to 4BR, Colin Evans hoped that a sense of long term co-operation will secure the future financial stability of two of the most important domestic Welsh contests.
"The Welsh League is one of the foundation stones on which banding in the Principality has flourished in recent years.
With executive members of the Association actively seeking new funding streams it is hoped that renaissance will not be stifled by a lack of financial support at grass roots level."
He added: "I would urge bands and their representatives to attend their Association Annual General Meetings to discuss this urgent matter and to try and come up with ideas that can safeguard our banding future."
Annual General Meeting
The Annual General Meeting of the South East Wales Brass Band Association will take place at the Old Church Rooms, Radyr, CF15 8DF, on Saturday, 11th January, 2014, commencing at 2.00pm.