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Battle of Flowers faces loss of up to £30,000 this year

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ADVERSE weather and increased costs have left the Battle of Flowers facing a loss of up to £30,000 this year.

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Initial figures released by Battle organisers reveal an ongoing challenge in balancing the books, with the annual event remaining dependent on government funding.

In a ministerial decision from earlier this month, Economic Development Minister Lyndon Farnham authorised a grant of £130,000 for the summer 2019 event, plus an additional £15,000 towards the Christmas parade and £10,000 in marketing and website support.

Senator Farnham’s decision was accompanied by a report outlining annual losses of £19,000 in 2017 and £14,000 in 2018. The budget for 2019 indicated an improved forecast loss of £5,000, but added that adverse weather represented a ‘highly sensitive’ risk.

Although both the daytime and moonlight parades took place in largely dry conditions, wet weather on the morning of the day parade acted as a disincentive to some spectators, while the following evening saw high winds which caused the cancellation of the post-parade fireworks and had a further negative effect on attendance.

Finance director Chris Lowndes said: ‘The majority of our tickets are sold in the two weeks prior to the parades as tourists arrive and locals decide whether to attend once they know what the weather will be like. Unfortunately, the weather forecast was very mixed, which resulted in sales for seating areas being approximately £11,000 down compared to recent years.

‘At present, we don’t know the actual ticket sales for the standing areas as we are still processing this data, but we expect it will be lower than last year. Based on this reduction in ticket sales and ever-increasing event running costs, we estimate that our loss will be between £20,000 and £30,000 for this year.’

Mr Lowndes added: ‘The future of the Jersey Battle of Flowers is dependent on continued funding by the States of Jersey. We utilise the funding received for the parades for the benefit of the exhibitors, with all of the £130,000 summer grant being paid out to the exhibitors to put towards the cost of their floats – none of it goes towards the event-management costs.’

Organisers estimate that the total cost of building and decorating Battle floats is more than £250,000, with the balance raised through additional fundraising initiatives by exhibitors. Final figures will not be known until the accounts are audited towards the end of this year.

The Battle of Flowers recently became a registered charity. Mr Lowndes said he hoped this would open up more avenues for additional funding to ensure the future of the event.

‘Jersey Battle of Flowers is a huge community and tourism event that brings together people from all walks of life to design, build and flower the magnificent floats,’ he said. Despite the unpredictable weather, our exhibitors and carnival acts were able to put on two spectacular shows for everyone who attended.’

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