New bid to bring G&S Festival back to Buxton

Buxton Opera House during the Gilbert and Sullivan Festival that follows the main summer festival
Buxton Opera House during the Gilbert and Sullivan Festival that follows the main summer festival

A new offer is on the table to encourage the Gilbert and Sullivan Festival to return to Buxton, it has been confirmed this week.

Last June, festival chairman Ian Smith announced that the 2013 event would be the last to be held in Buxton, putting the move down to increased costs at Buxton Opera House and reduced funding from High Peak Borough Council.

But a letter from the council and opera house has now been sent to Mr Smith with a new offer in a bid to get the festival back in the town which has been its home for 20 years.

Caitlin Bisknell, leader of the authority, said a number of meetings have taken place between the council, opera house and local businesses over recent months to decide a way forward.

“We’ve worked with businesses in the town and jointly with Buxton Opera House to put forward what we think is a very good offer,” she said.

At the end of the day, the decision is down to the Smiths.

“We have put what we believe is a good offer on the table around subsidising the use of facilities like the Pavilion Arts Centre, the Octagon and the opera house but times are hard.

“Councils are getting their budgets cut. There was no suggestion from the businesses that we should be offering cash grants for the festival to come back, it seemed to be reasonably accepted that that wasn’t the right thing to do.”

This year’s Gilbert and Sullivan (G&S) Festival is taking place in Harrogate, with many Buxton businesses set to lose out on the huge financial boost the three-week event brings each August.

But Cllr Bisknell said there would still be some G&S activity in Buxton this year, adding: “For this summer, we’ve got our family festival and a number of other events happening in the town. Other people are also showing an interest in coming into Buxton.

“We’ve also got some G&S groups who didn’t want to go to Harrogate. Over two weekends we’ve got some professional productions and on one week we’ve got an amateur production so there will still be some G&S in Buxton at roughly the same time (as the festival) this summer.”

Festival chairman Ian Smith said: “I can confirm that we have received a letter from High Peak Borough Council with an outline offer and I will be meeting with Buxton Opera House privately.” That meeting was due to take place yesterday (Thursday).

He added that he hoped there would be an announcement about the future of the festival within the next ten days.