The Bishop of St Asaph has launched a £5,000 appeal to help a top music festival that’s on a financial “knife edge” because of unpaid ticket sales.
The box office for last year’s North Wales International Music Festival in St Asaph was run by the Scala Cinema in Prestatyn which closed in January.
The Scala did not hand over the £13,000 they collected and festival organisers reported the matter to the police and the Charity Commission.
Festival organisers say there is no threat to this year’s event which will go ahead between September 26 and October 3.
A stellar line-up of “world class” performers has been already been unveiled, including the supremely talented former royal harpist, Hannah Stone.
This year’s programme will also include the renowned Japanese pianist Noriko Ogawa, Australian guitarist Craig Ogden, vocal ensemble Stile Antico and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.
Bishop Gregory, who is also the president of the festival, has rallied to the cause to boost the festival’s finances.
He has written to supporters saying: “As many of you will be aware from the local media, NWIMF suffered a serious financial loss following last year’s festival.
“This was due to the fact that we had outsourced our box office to the Scala cinema and Arts Centre in Prestatyn, who unfortunately ceased trading in January of this year, and they have not been able to pay the festival the £13,000 box office money owed to us.
“The Chair and Board of Trustees have been working diligently to try and recoup this money but to date with no success.
“The police and Charity Commission have been kept fully informed but, as yet, they have not been able to help us and we are presently uncertain whether our monies will be recuperated.
“Fortunately we are able to go ahead with the festival again this year due to the generosity of our funders and sponsors.
“The programme is once again full of wonderful concerts, masterclasses and an education project following our 2015 theme of ‘light’.
“Consequently we are working on a knife edge and looking for other funding opportunities.
“It would be wonderful if our Friends were able to raise an additional £5,000 towards this year’s festival. No matter how small a donation you might be able to make, every £1 would help.”
The hugely popular festival was founded in 1972 by the renowned royal composer Professor William Mathias.
According to Prof Matthias, he regarded establishing the event as one of his greatest achievements.
He visited every potential venue in North Wales before deciding that St Asaph Cathedral provided the very best acoustic setting for the event.
Artistic Director Ann Atkinson, a talented mezzo soprano, explained: “The cathedral has a very special acoustic – the combination of the stone and the wood creates something really magical.
“I have also performed in the concert hall at Sydney Opera House and, while it has a brilliant acoustic, I must say that St Asaph Cathedral is actually a much better venue acoustically.
“This year, the theme we’ve chosen is light, with it being the UNESCO Year of Light.
“Everything fell into place really rather well when you think of all the composers who were inspired by light and the idea of the light and how it affects the way you see certain things. It’s certainly given us lots of possibilities with programming.
“The theme of light will flow like a strand through all of the week and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales will be among the high points in a programme of world class concerts.
“They will be playing the Helios overture by Nielsen which has the sun going down over the Aegean which is rather beautiful.
“As well as the brilliant Hannah Stone, we’ll have Craig Ogden, the Australian guitarist who will be marvellous, as will the lovely Latvian violinist, Baiba Skride.
“Other highlights will include the fantastic Noriko Ogawa, Stilo Antico, the North Wales Only Boys Aloud and Elin Manahan Thomas.
“Despite our financial difficulties, this is going to be a great festival and I can’t wait for it to get started.”