Cowes on the Isle of Wight is the traditional home of UK sailing. The economy depends on the sport to rescue it from being just another UK seaside town. In recent years, the town’s biggest money maker Cowes Week has been paid for by competitors and corporate sponsors.
Without a major sponsor, Cowes Week organisers have asked the community to donate £50,000 to ‘save’ the annual fireworks display that accompanies the sailing. To date, the community hasn’t really risen to the challenge. The Facebook page set up to rally support has attracted 3,500 members, but these supporters have only contributed £1 each.
An anonymous donor has put up £25,000, but the exercise shows a strange lack of commitment from local business. Organisers claim that Cowes Week generates millions of dollars for the local economy, so where are the donations from pubs, shops, taxi drivers and accommodation providers who gain the most from the display?
Many sailors who compete in the event couldn’t care less if there were fireworks or not. Revellers in the beer tents probably wouldn’t miss them either. Of course they are not the most environmentally friendly things on the planet, so perhaps the local community actually doesn’t want them.
Given that 100 businesses would only have to pay £250 each to raise the remaining money, it is more likely, they just want someone else to pay for them, but still take advantage of the financial rewards.