A MAXIMUM budget of £75,000 for artists at next year’s FAB Festival has been agreed – with the aim of securing a headliner by Christmas.

Middlewich Town Council’s external committee has been given the responsibility of spending the cash to make quicker progress on putting next year’s festival together than would be made if the decisions were took at full council once a month.

Cllr Mike Hunter, Labour, told Monday night’s full council meeting: “We need to approve the budget now so that a decision can be made by the external committee and we can react faster to get the headliners and the bands that we wish.

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“Otherwise, towards the end we are struggling, we are messing about trying to arrange this and that.”

Councillors moved to reassure the public that the £75,000 figure was the top end of the budget, with the average cost of artists at the last four FAB festivals being less than £65,000.

The £75,000 limit is slightly less than the highest fee paid by Middlewich Town Council for FAB Festival artists in the last four years – which stood at £75,338 in 2017.

That followed the £57,171 spent in 2016, while £65,650 was spent in 2018 and £59,437 was spent in 2019.

The figures do not include staffing costs for the festival.

Cllr Hunter added: “If we spent £70,000, we normally get around £70,000 back. It’s normally a neutral cost.

“It might be a couple of grand more but to be honest with you, if this council spends a couple of thousand pounds in the red on the FAB Festival, I don’t think that’s a bad thing because it will bring money into the town.”

Town councillors hope that if a headliner can be booked in the next month, FAB Festival tickets could be bought as Christmas presents and it would be easier to attract sponsorship.

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Cllr Dave Latham, independent, added: “I just want to be really clear for everybody that this is not us looking to spend £75,000. It is up to the £75,000 limit.

“These bands can get booked up 12 to 18 months in advance, so when you as a council want to raise funds for sponsorship, it’s very hard to go out to a business and say ‘will you come and sponsor our FAB Festival’ [without a headliner].

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“They set their budgets in January, they sort their budget out in April, so they need to know early on how much they are going to sponsor us. They all want to know who is booked.”

Middlewich Town Council’s external committee is next due to meet on Thursday, December 5, at 7.15pm.