ORGANISERS behind the Swaledale Festival say they have been 'humbled' by the generosity of ticket holders who are helping to secure its future.

The festival has grown significantly over the last decade and saw a record audience last year.

Organisers were hoping to build on that momentum for this year's festival which was due to launch on March 20 but was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The cancellation at such a late stage threw the small charity behind the event into a financially precarious situation.

But the Festival’s future now looks a lot safer thanks to the generous donations made by its ticket-buyers and supporters.

Malcolm Creese, Swaledale Festival’s artistic director since 2007, says he is stunned by the support.

He said: “I offer my heartfelt thanks to all those wonderful art and music-lovers who have helped to secure our future.

"I feel humbled by the response from our supporters when it looked as if we wouldn’t survive this unprecedented disaster.

“I would also like to pay tribute to my dedicated colleagues who have worked tirelessly from home during the lockdown.

The Northern Echo:

"Over the last few weeks we have been ringing round our ticket buyers to arrange refunds, and we’ve been astonished by the number of people who have chosen to donate some or all of their ticket money to help the Festival survive.

“We are by no means the only organisation needing financial support at this time, but hundreds of people have been telling us how important the Festival is to them, and that we must continue our annual cultural celebration as well as all the work we do in schools and care homes.

“As a professional musician myself, I feel very sorry for my fellow musicians and other artists who have had their livelihoods all but wiped out.

"I found it hard to call up more than a hundred colleagues to tell them their Festival bookings had been cancelled. My aim now is to invite as many as possible to come and perform for us next year.

“I am pleased to report that my preparations for the 2021 Festival, which takes place from 29 May to 12 June, are well underway, and even at this early stage a stellar line-up of world-class performers is taking shape.”