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Written by on 29/09/2011

Argyll and Bute Council’s Executive today (Thursday 29 September) gave its commitment to invest in major and strategic events and festivals for the next few years.

The agreement means that events like the Cowal Highland Gathering and the Royal National Mod will continue to play a vital role in attracting visitors to Argyll and Bute.

The Cowal Highland Gathering is secure for another three years as the Executive agreed to enter into a new service level agreement.

The Cowal Highland Gathering is the largest annual cultural event to take place in Argyll and Bute and is held in Dunoon each year at the end of August.  The current agreement with the Council and Cowal Highland Gathering Board expires on 31 March 2012.   To make sure the Gathering continued councillors heard that a new agreement needed to be signed.  The largest highland gathering in the UK, the Cowal Highland Gathering is in the top three in the world.  It plays host to the World Highland Dancing Championships and the Cowal Pipe Band Championships, the final ‘major’ of the pipe band season.

The Cowal Highland Gathering has grown into an international competition.  In 2010, 16,351 attended the Gathering to see more than 3,300 participants compete.  Many competitors, spectators and judges travelled from Canada, USA, South Africa, Europe and across the whole of the UK to attend

It’s not just Dunoon which benefits from the gathering.  An economic impact survey carried out in 2010 showed that it brought in excess of £3.7 million to Argyll and Bute.  This was not confined to Dunoon and the Cowal peninsula as evidence showed that people attending the event regularly booked accommodation in places like Helensburgh, Arrochar, Inveraray and Oban.

And today’s decision also means that Oban will play host to the Royal National Mod in 2015 and that it will return to Argyll and Bute in either 2018 or 2019.

The council has a long tradition of supporting the Royal National Mod and has hosted the event recently in 2003, 2006 and 2009 with Dunoon playing host in 2012.  An Comunn Gaidhealach asked if the council would support a bid to host the 2015 event in Oban.  They also asked if the council would commit to help bring the Mod back to Argyll and Bute in 2018 or 2019.  The Executive’s decision today means that the service level agreement which was due to expire in 2013 will be extended to 2019.

By continuing to support the Royal National Mod the council is showing its commitment to the Gaelic language, music and culture.  In addition the financial benefits to the host towns are considerable.  In 2009 the Mod generated £2.3 million for Oban.

A number of smaller grants were provided for events demonstrating economic benefit across Argyll and Bute were also agreed by the Executive at today’s meeting.

Spokesperson for Enterprise, Energy, Culture and Tourism Councillor Neil Mackay said, “I am delighted at the Executive’s decision today.  By supporting these major and strategic events and festivals the council is confirming its support to the continued economic development of Argyll and Bute.  The events which today received funding are responsible for bringing significant financial, social and cultural benefits to our area.