FREE COUNCIL-run Godiva Festival overspent its budget by £460,000 last year, according to a financial report by Coventry City Council (CCC).
The festival had a budget of £150,000 for its 20th anniversary year, but costs reached £610,000, an overspend of more than 300 per cent.
An estimated crowd of 88,000 attended the festival on its busiest day over the newly-scheduled weekend at the end of the summer, up from 70,000 the previous year, with headliners including Ronan Keating, Jake Bugg and the Editors.
However, the council’s report says the increased numbers also led to rise in costs.
Website Coventry Live quotes the council’s Conservative opposition leader Cllr Gary Ridley saying, “There seems to have been a complete failure to control costs by the council.” He called for a viable plan and was not convinced the council had one.
But a CCC spokesman says the festival attracts 30,000 visitors from outside the city, has an economic impact for the local community of £2.3 million and will form part of the build-up to Coventry being City of Culture in 2021.
“The council has already made a clear commitment to hosting a Godiva Festival for the next three years,” he says. “But of course, it has to take into account the deteriorating overall financial position. We are currently considering the extent to which cost saving or income generation measures could be implemented in future.”
The event returns to its traditional July slot in 2019, while revenue measures considered in the report include charging for parking, offering naming rights – possibly worth £150,000 over three years, and increasing its merchandise offer with a view to generating £75,000 annually.
Festival booker Ben Hathaway declines to comment on the reasons for the overspend but tells Festival, “For the past 10 years I have helped Godiva attract 179,000 people over three days at its peak. I hope to keep delivering the best multi-genre line-ups that I possibly can to Coventry people.”
The previous festival director, Lee House, retired in November and a new city events manager has been appointed, although CCC was unable to reveal his/her name as Festival went to print.