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Preston arts and entertainment listings guide The Two Hats faces uncertain future

Posted on - 3rd October, 2013 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - Arts, News, Preston Council

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A Preston listings guide has returned with its latest edition but says it may be one of the last.

The Two Hats, which provides a two-month long guide called The Preston Guide on what is going on across the arts community in the city, is running out of cash.

Its editor David Henckel has written a blog post explaining the financial position of the guide.

He says funding from Preston City Council and the University of Central Lancashire has all but dried up.

Previous money for the Two Hats came from a fund with the cultural framework for Preston, but this is now slim.

Henckel writes: “At the end of the year of funding The Guide was left floundering. Although the council clearly understood its value (having talked about producing one themselves for the last four years), they were no longer in a position to hand over a chunk of money. The only possibility lay with a fledgling cultural framework.

“Lancashire County Council were still no help – In fact The Two Hats (which has been run voluntarily for two years) and The Preston Guide have been turned down twice for Arts Development Funding – Even though it is clear that a small amount of funding in the right hands (that’s ours) would have obvious benefits across the sector and add value to all the other projects which they deemed worth the money. I often wonder what The Arts Development team are developing? A disinterest in Arts & Culture?

“BID Preston – Preston’s Business improvement district have got the necessary funds to support The Preston Guide. They could could be the sole funders and currently run a variety of projects which would directly benefit from the promotional opportunities which The Guide brings. Just a fraction of the cost it took to produce the weekend event PrestFest would easily cover one years worth of The Preston Guide. I have approached them but they appear to be uninterested.

“I realise that some people aren’t going to like what I’ve said in this post.. but the fact of the matter is that as a whole those who are in a position to make changes in this city, to take it in their arms and do a little dance are short sighted and apathetic.. You need only look at the attitude of the council (Preston & Lancashire) towards the bus station to see that they have little vision, passion or drive. There are people in this city who have all of those positive characteristics and if the council do one decent thing this year it would be to enable them.”

The blog post has drawn a response from the leader of Preston City Council Peter Rankin. He tweeted:

Mark Whittle from Preston’s Business Improvement District said: “Whilst we recognise that the Two Hats Guide is a useful publication, it’s not possible for us to support it all year round.

“They incorrectly state BID has the funds to support the guide for a year, we do not. BID has a budget and responsibility to promote and advertise its events and campaigns through individual event budgets, in which marketing costs are included.

“We do not generically advertise between projects. We have financially supported the guide during active projects and are disappointed that the producers have taken to criticising organisations that have, for their own business reasons, chosen not to continually fund their project.”

The October/November edition of the Guide is out now and available to download or pick up at various venues around Preston.

Henckel is asking for backers to come forward or those who can help to get in touch.

What do you think? Who should fund the Guide? Does Preston need one? Let us know in the comments below

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