Aberdeen children ask council not to pull funding for Aberdeen International Youth Festival

Children from city groups that could be affected by cuts to funding for the Aberdeen International Youth Festival have hand-delivered a plea to councillors to think again and save it.

Young people involved in ACE Voices – which has been part of the festival in previous years – attended the Town House to deliver a collection of stories to all 45 members in a bid to persuade the council not to pull its funding.

Last month, the city council’s education and children’s services committee decided it should no longer make an annual contribution to festival funds.

Bosses for the Aberdeen International Youth Festival (AIYF) say it may struggle to continue if that happens.

The leader of ACE Voices, Alec Thompson-Miller – together with several children who attend his singing sessions – hand-delivered the letter and stories by AIYF participants to councillors yesterday.

He said: “Losing AIYF would leave a massive hole. It is not just the two weeks in summer; there is activity all year long.

“We have made lots of partnerships over the years, especially with a group in the USA. They are devastated to hear about AIYF – we had a trip planned to go out there, which is now in jeopardy.”

Ella and Matthew Webster – aged 13 and 11 – have both performed at AIYF and were disappointed at the possibility of losing the event.

Ella said: “Singing is my life. Without the festival, we wouldn’t have people from all over coming to visit to see it. It would be boring without it.”

SNP finance spokesman Councillor Alex Nicoll said: “I’m feeling hopeful. These kids are clearly confident enough to speak to elected members, and that is to their credit.

“It shows they feel strongly enough about the festival.”

The festival, which has been supported by the council for 45 years, usually receives £123,000 annually, and £129,000 last year. The amounts vary but account for about 25% of what is needed for the city to host the celebration of young talent.

The council’s finance convener Douglas Lumsden said: “The administration’s view is we’re looking to allocate money directly to young people.

“The decision the committee makes is to approve the funding directly to a youth fund and what this is doing is creating a basket of money that young people and young groups can apply to directly.”