Festival funding: does tradition overrule act?

There are a number of events during Hawick Common Riding that a men-only, which could impact on the annual grant from SBC.
There are a number of events during Hawick Common Riding that a men-only, which could impact on the annual grant from SBC.

Guidance is being sought from Scottish Borders Council about how future festivals will be funded.

The council gives 29 local festivals and common ridings a total of £85,110 a year, with the amount granted being based on the town’s population.

Towns with populations of more than 10,000 - Galashiels and Hawick - are given £9,300.

The local festival grant scheme is reviewed on a three-yearly basis and grants to festival committees to assist with the cost of public liability insurance and public protection measures, such as road closures, first aid, marshalling and stewarding, are agreed by the executive committee.

It’s about to be looked at again and any new application to the council for grant funding requires the event to comply with equality legislation. However, some towns’ festival activities are gender-restricted.

Councillor Gordon Edgar said: “I would like legal direction on this. What we will be discussing is the application of the 2010 Equalities Act to any event the council contributes to. Town’s festivals and common ridings have their own certain traditions.”

In January this year Hawick Common Riding Committee issued the following statement: “The committee appreciate and would like to thank the Hawick public and those of our neighbouring towns who respect the heritage, customs and traditions of Hawick Common Riding, to be all male events.

“As a committee we are aware we live in a time of equal rights for women, and can appreciate this, although we also need to remember our historic traditions so that they can be passed on to the next generation.”