Shock as council scrap popular Robbie Burnsfest event

A council has been slammed for deciding to scrap plans for popular Burnsfest event
A council has been slammed for deciding to scrap plans for popular Burnsfest event
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Council bosses have sparked outrage after axing a popular festival celebrating Robert Burns - just days after it was revealed the Bard generates more than £200 million for the Scottish economy.

South Ayrshire Council poured £80,000 into the free-to-attend Burnsfest in 2019, and £50,000 in 2018, but confirmed that it would not fund the festival "in the same format" this year.

The shock move to axe the festival, one of South Ayrshire's most popular events, was met with anger - with some describing the decision as "staggeringly short-sighted".

The one-day live music event, with the slogan "the man, the music, the legacy", was previously held in Rozelle Park in Ayr, South Ayrshire in May.

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It attracts thousands of revellers, with Eddi Reader, Midge Ure, Big Country, The Silencers and Chesney Hawkes among the headliner acts in previous years.

It also features stand-up comedy gigs and family entertainment such as a Burns Fair, Haggis Hunt, archery, crazy golf and a ceilidh tent.

Commenting on the decision to axe Burnsfest, a source told The Herald: "This is staggeringly short-sighted example of cost cutting."

An online petition to save the festival has already been set up and many took to social media to vent their disappointment.

One person said: "Its a bloody outrage! We all love a wee annual galavant to Burnsfest."

Another said: "Always look forward to it, everyones always on top form and it was so good for all ages."

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One social media user added: "Very sad indeed. A day that a great many people, local and from afar looked forward too.

"Disgusting decision from SAC."

A council spokesman said they were exploring ideas for a "Burns fringe celebration".

The move comes days after a University of Glasgow report showed that Robert Burns is worth more than £200m to the Scottish economy and his brand £140m annually, despite the poet having died over 261 years ago.

The Scottish Government-funded research found Burns's economic and cultural importance to Scotland was worth £203m annually - around £50m higher than previously thought.

The study concluded that Scotland should do more to celebrate Burns's importance, suggesting the establishment of a humanitarian award in his name and rebranding Prestwick Airport in his honour.

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The Bard's work has been translated into every major language worldwide.

Professor Murray Pittock of the University's Centre for Robert Burns Studies, who led the research, said: "More than 250 years after his birth, Robert Burns, his life and work, still holds a huge fascination for a worldwide audience."

A South Ayrshire Council spokesman said: "We are proud to support a number of Burns events throughout the year and are looking forward to kicking off a new decade and Scotland's winter festivals with the Robert Burns Humanitarian Awards on January 22 and the Burns on the Beach celebration on January 24.

"For 2020 we are not anticipating holding Burnfest in the same format as in previous years but we are looking at the scope for a Burns fringe celebration."