Arts-loving care organisation comes to festival’s rescue

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Ann Atkinson with Mario and Gill Kreft from Pendine Park at St Asaph Cathedral.

 

An arts-loving care organisation from Wrexham has come to the rescue of a top music festival after it was left in the lurch because of unpaid ticket receipts.

The prestigious North Wales International Music Festival is still owed £13,000 by the Scala Cinema and Art Centre in Prestatyn who ran its box office last year.

The centre closed in January because of money problems – it has since reopened under new management – leaving a massive hole in the festival’s finances and doubts about its future.

Mario and Gill Kreft, the owners of the Pendine Park care organisation, were incensed to hear the popular festival had been let down so badly.

They are long-time supporters of the festival that’s held at St Asaph Cathedral and decided to increase their contribution to ensure this year’s event went ahead as planned.

Organisers have hailed Pendine Park and other supporters who rallied to the cause as “true festival heroes”.

As a result, according to artistic director Ann Atkinson, this year’s event between September 26 and October 3 and supported by the Arts Council of Wales was still on track to be one of the best ever.

One of the main highlights this year will be a world premiere of new music performed by the supremely talented former royal harpist, Hannah Stone.

This year’s programme will also feature the renowned Japanese pianist Noriko Ogawa, Australian guitarist Craig Ogden, vocal ensemble Stile Antico and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.

Pendine Park, which runs seven care homes, a domiciliary care firm  and an in-house training organisation employing more than 600 people in the Wrexham area,  has pioneered the use of the arts and was the first care organisation in Wales to appoint an artist in residence.

They are involved in long-running collaborations with the festival, the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, the Hallé orchestra and Welsh National Opera.

Earlier this year, Pendine was named Business of the Year by Arts and Business Cymru.

In the autumn the firm, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, will be opening a new £7 million centre of excellence for dementia care, Bryn Seiont Newydd (New Bryn Seiont) in Caernarfon where they will be creating 100 new jobs.

Mario Kreft MBE said: “What happened to the festival was despicable and we were really sorry that it potentially was putting the whole event at risk.

“We love the tradition of the festival which is a very important part of our cultural life in North Wales and it fits very well with what we do at Pendine Park in terms of the promotion of the arts through our enrichment programme.

“It is important the festival should survive and flourish for another 40 years and I think the danger of that not happening because of the problem with the box office last year was totally unacceptable to me so we just had to do something about it.

“This festival is a vital community asset which brings wonderful stars to this area, so for it to be put in doubt in this way, was quite shocking.

“This year, we’re going to build on the community work we sponsored last year so it will help the outreach opportunities.

“We’re also delighted to be able to sponsor the opening night with the wonderful Hannah Stone who’s going to be performing a specially commissioned work by Gareth Glyn and we’re very pleased to see that happen with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.”

Ann Atkinson said: “Pendine Park have gone above and beyond the call of duty.

“They have supported us for many years now and they are definitely one of our main sponsors this year and without that really valuable support we would not be as optimistic as we are.

“I think what’s wonderful is the fact that Mario and Gill are so astute in realising the difficulties that we’re in and where support is needed. They have placed that support in a monetary way but also as friends in our hour of need.

“Mario and Gill are a couple who travel extensively and hear the highest class music and the best opera in the world.  From that point of view, having their support as people who are so discerning is also a wonderful thing.

“We are very lucky that we’ve had quite a few rescuers coming to our aid this year and we’re grateful to every one of them. They are true festival heroes.”

“Things are now looking better. Ticket sales are up from what they were at this time last year and, while there’s still a long way to go, we have every reason to be optimistic about the future.”

For more on the North Wales International Music Festival and to book tickets online please visit www.nwimf.com or alternatively call the festival’s box office at Clwyd Theatr Cymru on 01352 701521.