Funding agreed for country’s top mòd to be held as a showcase for the Highlands
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Questions remain after Highland Council agreed to shell out an extra £80,000 on top of the £40,000 it had already budgeted to stage the Royal National Mòd in Inverness this year.
According to the council, organiser An Comunn Gàidhealach “indicated a strong desire” to return to Inverness this coming autumn instead of waiting until 2024 but said they would need £120,000 to stage the event.
The programme’s proposed schedule will cater for anticipated limited live audience capacities, which would increase should there be an easing of Covid-related restrictions.
But some councillors are concerned about what happens to the money if the mòd does not go ahead and if it will deliver enough live performances to attract people to the city.
With that in mind, a proviso was included whereby the cash would be returned if it does not go ahead while maintaining their reservations about the lack of a detailed programme.
Councillor Graham Mackenzie said: “I am not totally unsupportive of this but being chairman of audit and scrutiny makes me more curmudgeonly than usual and I think there are questions to be asked about this.
“As many of us will know from trying to get funding for many of what are called our own projects, it is notoriously difficult.
“Now we are being asked, on the nod of a head, to hand over £80,000 at a time when we have no programme for the mòd, no idea about participation levels at any stage and in actual fact no certainty that it will go ahead.
“If in the event that the mòd does not happen, are there any plans to recover this additional funding? I just don’t think we have been given enough detail and I think there are questions that should have been answered before this came to committee.”
Kate Lackie, the council’s executive chief officer for performance and governance, said: “The funding that the council gives is an accumulative figure so this year we are effectively at year zero. Last year was the end of that accumulative figure to get us our full budget and our full budget commitment to An Comunn Gàidhealach.
“So if we want the Royal National Mòd to come to Inverness this year we have to make up that zero figure, take the figure we have a budget for this year and add two more year’s worth of funding to get it fully funded.
“The chief executive of An Comunn Gàidhealach said they hadn’t wanted to make any assumption about that so what they have said is they have as varied a programme as possible.
“Their expectation is that they will deliver something approaching what they have done in the past and that is something that is highly valuable for many people and something that other places want.”