STREETFEST has been a highlight of the calendar in Ashbourne for some years.
The artistry, comedy and amazement on every street corner is fascinating for children and adults alike and has certainly been a big draw for townsfolk and tourists.
The news this week that a funding bid for the International Streetfest was originally rejected by the Arts Council is a sas indicator of what is to come.
Government cuts have hit the arts hard and now we are starting to feel the pinch.
Streetfest has occasionally caused some controversy in the town, with some businesses claiming the weekend impacts negatively on their stores and other grumbles about parking and noise occasionally rising to the surface.
But the report from 2011, which was done at the behest of the Arts Council, clearly shows that people travel from miles away to come to Streetfest.
Those people spend on average, £25 on each day in the town.
Streetfest weekend along brings an additional £125,000 into the economy of the Ashbourne area.
This year, a second round of bids sourced a smaller grant from the Arts Council for Streetfest and fund-raising efforts to cover the cost of the event, which brings artists from around the world to our little market town; are already underway.
But, money is needed. And soon. Fund-raising and clever money-management will see this year’s Streetfest go ahead.
In the same situation next year, the outlook is bleak.
At a time when our town centre has been hit by the failing economic policies of central government, we cannot afford to lose and event which brings around 5,000 into the town for hours at a time for two days.
Investment is going to be needed to keep Streetfest up and running.
And while the financial side of it all may seem a little mercenary, there is another imperative for retaining what is a fantastic addition to our calendars.
International Streetfest is an amazing community event.
We get to showcase our town to visitors, welcoming them and sharing with them the astounding spectacles all put on for our enjoyment.
The entertainment is mesmerising and the atmosphere electric.
And for anyone who has been to Streetfest in the past, another facet of the show is watching the audience too.
Children sit open-mouthed, delight and wonder written clearly across their faces.
Watching the adults in the audience it is easy to spot who is picking up on the inevitable innuendo, who is wincing at the physical stunt work and who is enjoying the show, but desperately hoping they won’t be picked out of the crowd and asked to join in.
Few towns of our size can boast a weekend featuring street artists from around the world, from contortionists to jugglers, magicians and circus skills.
Streetfest is fun. And in the current climate, we all need a little of that.