A COMMUNITY music event has been given £2,000 for a professional stage.

Laverstock and Ford Parish Council approved the application from River Bourne Community Farm for its Live at the Farm Event at a meeting on December 18.

The money will go towards professional staging, as the farm has previously used scaffolding and planks for bands at the music event, which has been running for five years.

Representing the farm, office manager Jane Wilkinson said the event cost around £12,000 to put on, and last year’s event, attended by more than 3,500 people, generated £19,000 so it was “well worth doing”.

She said a professional stage would help raise the event’s profile, as it is already using professional light and sound.

Cllr Ron Champion pointed out that a similar grant had already been put forward by the company running Salisbury Live, CJH Events, which was rejected as it was “completely unsuitable” and for commercial reasons.

Ms Wilkinson said the company contributed towards the cost of bands booked at the events, and it had been suggested that they book the stage, but they cannot access grant money as they are not a community interest project.

Cllr Karen Beard asked what profits from previous events were used for, and Ms Wilkinson said a fraction of the money went towards future fundraisers and the rest was used for the farm’s running costs.

And Cllr Derek Hayes questioned whether Salisbury Live would pay the cost of the staging if a grant wasn’t made, but Ms Wilkinson said it would be covered by the farm.

Cllr Andy Birkett said: “If we are going to be hard nosed about it, you are a trading entity and you are asking the parish council to use funds to subsidise your endeavour,” but council chairman, David Burton, said he viewed the application as an “event for the community”.

Cllr Ron Champion said he wanted to comment on “how the farm has matured” over the past few years, and said: “The farm was on the edge for quite a few years, and quite honestly they haven’t asked us for money for a long time.

“It is for the community and the profit to them is hugely important.”

He added that if the council did not agree to the grant “they will have to find the money from somewhere” and said it was a “huge opportunity” for the council to help the farm make a profit.

After queries about whether the farm was applying to Salisbury city council for money, Ms Wilkinson said: “We are gong to be applying for as much sponsorship as we can. We realised last year when costs went up that we needed to get sponsorship wherever we can.”

Cllr Burton proposed to support the grant application and deemed Live at the Farm a “hugely important event where we see people pouring in from our community”.

Eight councillors voted to support the application and there was one abstention. Ms Wilkinson said she was “very grateful” for the grant.