Disappointing Turnout For Birr Vintage Week AGM

Thursday, 9 March 2017

THERE was a disappointing turnout for the AGM of Birr Vintage Week on Friday evening in Dooly's Hotel, and the Chairman Cyril Stanley appealed to the public to get behind their festival.
 About 15 people turned up for the meeting, compared to thirty for last year's AGM. Most of the attendees were current committee members. It was pointed out that the majority of the committee are commuters and don't work in the town. By contrast the many people who do work in the town and benefit financially from the festival were conspicuous by their absence. 
Mr Stanley said it was very disappointing to see no retailers or vintners at the meeting, two groups which benefit markedly from the annual event and he appealed to them to rally behind the August festival.
 The meeting was told that it costs €50,000 to fund Vintage Week every year, and collecting the funds is a difficult task. Unfortunately the Arts Office is giving reduced funding this year. Bureaucracy also seems to have worsened generally and members complained about the increase of paperwork for grants.
 Cyril said next year is the 50th anniversary and work has already started for that.
He thanked 'every single person who contributed to the success of last year's festival - our funders and sponsors whose contributions are hugely appreciated, the clubs, societies, groups, organisations and artists who came together to hold, host and run events which enhanced the festival programme, all the business owners who willingly gave us premises, Offaly County Council, Birr Municipal District, Birr Garda Siochana, Birr Fire Brigade, Central Fire Station Tullamore, Civil Defence, Marian Hall Committee, Birr Community Responder Group, Order of Maltas Ireland Birr/Roscrea, Birr and District Motor Club, Birr Lions Club, Birr Chamber of Commerce, Birr Tidy Towns, Dooly's Hotel. Without their support it would have been impossible to run such a festival. I want to thank all our volunteers who manned diversions and events with unfailing enthusiasm and were always on hand to help out where and when needed. I want to thank our festival intern Cailin Keaveney who worked tirelessly for several weeks and ran the Festival Information Line with such positivity and courtesy.' 
The Chair also thanked every member of the public who attended and participated in the festival's events. 'Thank you to everyone who made the 48th festival the success that it was.'
The 49th festival  will be held from the 4th to the 11th of August and represents locals' opportunity to turn back time in this elegant Georgian town and enjoy its contemporary ambience with a dynamic, colourful range of vintage and modern events for all ages.
As ever the wide-ranging, imaginative programme will include the fantastic opening parade with its display of vintage, equestrian and community entries; the artisan and craft market; the Ormand Flying Club's annual Fly-In and Display; the Olde Time Traditional Fair; busking competition; free children's events; antiques and fine art fair; live music; sporting and literary events; nightly pub entertainment; and a spectacular fireworks display which will illuminate the skies above the town.
The arts as always will play a central role with a visually stunning and exciting visual arts trail, theatre performances, contemporary dance classes, film screenings and workshops in various mediums.
The following committee members were elected during Friday's AGM: Co-Chairperson: Cyril Stanley, Co-Chairperson and PRO: Janine Wilson, Hon Treasurer: Michelle de Forge, Parade Co-ordinator: Orla Watkins, Visual Arts Curator: Frances Kawala, Programme Co-ordinator and Minutes Secretary: Elizabeth Fogarty.
Cllr John Carroll praised the hardworking committee and said the 48th festival was a big success. He said he too was disappointed to see the low turnout of people for the AGM. 'There should be publicans and shopkeepers here,' he remarked. 'I don't think the town buys sufficiently into it. The whole town benefits from the festival and we should all get behind it.'
 He added that the level of bureaucracy in the state seems to have worsened and is now at a nightmare level.
Michelle de Forge pointed out that people don't have to join the committee to contribute, but can contribute invaluably in their own small spheres.
The next meeting will be in Dooly's Hotel at 8p.m. on Friday the 31st of March.


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