Organisers of the UK's only free beach festival said they were "deeply dismayed and concerned" at plans to cut funding for the arts in Suffolk.

After Suffolk County Council announced it would be cutting £500,000 funding investment in the arts and culture sector from April 2025, First Light Festival organisers said the decision was "short-sighted."

With audiences of "more than 40,000 attendees" descending on Lowestoft for First Light Festival 2023, organisers First Light CIC are preparing for "a weekend of unique performances and events under the solstice sun" later this year.

Lowestoft Journal: First Light Festival 2023 crowds. Picture: Mykola RomanovskyFirst Light Festival 2023 crowds. Picture: Mykola Romanovsky (Image: Mykola Romanovsky)

With the free arts festival, which celebrates the midsummer sun in Britain’s most easterly town, returning for 2024 on Saturday, June 22 and Sunday, June 23, First Light Festival organisers have now called on the county council to "reverse" the decision.

In a post on its website, Genevieve Christie, CEO of First Light Festival CIC, said: "First Light Festival CIC is deeply dismayed and concerned at Suffolk County Council’s announcement that it plans to cut all Arts and Museums funding from April 2025.

Lowestoft Journal: Genevieve Christie, CEO First Light Festival CICGenevieve Christie, CEO First Light Festival CIC (Image: Archant)

"This short-sighted decision ignores the enormous dividends that are generated by Suffolk's cultural organisations including from our input through workshops, events and long-term programmes into cultural education including early years provision, literacy enrichment – so vital post covid; health and wellbeing activities including for those with mental health and additional physical needs; community activities that combat social isolation; support for vulnerable young people not in employment or education.

"This decision also disregards the sector’s vital contribution to Suffolk’s cultural tourism and the long-term economic vitality of the region.

"We urge Suffolk County Council to reverse this decision."

The county council said it has had to make cuts to balance its books.

Speaking as the cuts were announced, deputy council leader Richard Rout said: "We must make difficult decisions about all the other services we deliver, and how we deliver them."