GATHERING: A positive evaluation

The Morpeth Northumbrian Gathering Committee wishes to express its warmest thanks to everyone who has supported the town’s 48th annual festival of local traditional music and culture.

It seems quite a while since April’s celebration, but the organising committee is still completing the follow-up activities and necessary evaluations.

We’ve received much pleasing feedback, despite the final morning’s bad weather, lower attendances at ticketed events and minor hiccups in delivering a programme of 60 or so activities.

We are extremely grateful to the huge numbers of individuals, groups and organisations who helped, generously gave donations, participated, or came along to enjoy the Gathering with this year’s War and Peace theme.

In particular, we must thank Morpeth Lions for yet again carrying out the task of conducting the street collection on Gathering Saturday, April 11.

This raised £313.43, which the Lions have most generously augmented from their own fund-raising pot so that a total of £500 has been received.

Early in July our postscript to the Gathering took place, the third visit to Morpeth by talented singers from the Düren Blind School in Germany.

This included a highly successful concert in the Chantry Bagpipe Museum and informal performances in the Peace Garden and the local pubs.

Luckily, the group Tonbande was able to fund much its own travel and expenses so that the visit broke even as far as the Gathering’s finances were concerned.

Within the local business community the visit had an economic impact of around £2,000 going to local suppliers.

This year has seen continuing challenges in raising money to sustain voluntary-run arts and community events, particularly long-standing ones such as ours.

We had the disappointment of two major grant bids being turned down, so as the Gathering approaches its half century the committee is making renewed efforts to plan ahead to ensure the festival has a future.

Next year, with the earlier Easter, the Gathering falls on April 1 to 3, and we aim to follow a medieval theme, encompassing fools, jesters, carnival, markets, the craft guilds and civic ceremonies, and King John, who was responsible 800 years earlier for the burning of the original town.

Kim Bibby-Wilson,

Chairman, Morpeth

Northumbrian Gathering Committee