The county council is set to spend £90,000 on a Festival of Derbyshire, starting with a series of events to celebrate Florence Nightingale.
Derbyshire County Council hopes that the planned festival, which would run from this May and last two years, could boost the area’s tourist economy – valued at £2.15 billion.
It has not said what the potential financial benefit to the county would be.
The idea for the new festival was first mooted last May and was described as a “vanity project” and “waste of money” by the county’s then leader of the Labour opposition.
Since then, the cost of the festival itself has fallen slightly from a proposed £100,000 to £90,000.
This funding is set for approval at a county council meeting led by Cllr Barry Lewis, leader of the authority, on Friday, February 7.
Back in May, the council had also proposed spending an additional £138,000 hiring a new member of staff on a three-year fixed term contract to oversee the festival.
This new member of staff started in their role in October.
A summary of the festival says: “The Festival of Derbyshire will celebrate Derbyshire’s distinctive culture and world class offer and start to tell the Derbyshire Story, based on its ‘People, Places and Products’, marking some key milestones and historically-relevant anniversaries during the period that help illustrate and bring the story to life.
“The Festival will be delivered through a high profile campaign, with activities commencing in May 2020.
“The Festival will help present Derbyshire to wider national and international audiences, encouraging day visitors to become staying visitors, but will also target local audiences, helping local people discover and engage with what’s on their doorstep and encouraging them to become ambassadors for Derbyshire’s visitor offer.”
The county says the festival will help “develop a sense of pride and ownership within Derbyshire’s communities”.
A report on the proposed festival says that the authority intends to make use of volunteers to run the events – aiming to total 2,020 volunteering hours.
Of the £43,500 to be spent on the festival this year, £13,500 will be spent on the “creative proposal” and £30,000 on marketing activities.
Marketing will be carried out by Marketing Peak District and Derbyshire – with “steer” from the council’s communications department.
The estimated spend for the second year is £46,500.
News of the proposed festival has again been met with controversy.
Reacting to the festival plans, Jane Robinson, who has been lobbying the council to provide sufficient support for her daughter, who has special educational needs, said: “It’s obscene to be celebrating Florence Nightingale when cuts to services mean that the county’s most vulnerable are left sitting in their own mess as there aren’t the services available to provide the care they need.
“When children with SEN and disabilities are denied educational provision and their parents are denied vital support to care for them, it’s an absolute disgrace.”
Trudi Martin, from Chesterfield, who recently won a tribunal case against the council, after seeking sufficient support for her daughter, said: “Yet they have no money to pay for education for children with SEND. My daughter has had no school or alternative provision for 24 months now.
“This is disgusting to read when parents fighting DCC are constantly told ‘we have no money’.”
The festival will begin with a series of events to celebrate Florence Nightingale, whose childhood home was in the Derbyshire village of Holloway.
A report on the festival timetable says the events would start in May. It said: “Florence Nightingale is truly a global figure, with significant reach, so celebrating the bicentenary of Florence Nightingale’s birth and her relationship with Derbyshire is a great way to launch the festival, highlighting Derbyshire’s rich heritage of health and well-being, including spa towns.”
This would be followed in June by a “walk of art” featuring trails, walks and cycle routes.
July would see the “sounds of Derbyshire” celebrated with the county’s “rich and diverse music offer” on show.
August will feature “country fare” focusing on food and drink produce from the county’s country shows – such as Chatsworth.
September’s events will be called “streets alive” to “encourage visitors to Derbyshire’s towns, to shop and take part in events at Melbourne, Wirksworth, New Mills , Chesterfield and Derby Feste”.
October will highlight Derbyshire’s museums, artefacts and industrial heritage.
Meanwhile, November and December will “put the spotlight on Derbyshire’s highest quality artisans and makers, in particular those who are part of the tourism supply chain, highlighting markets, fairs and open studios”.