THE flagship arts festival of a town’s events calendar has been cancelled for 2018.

Dalton’s Litfest, which was due to take place in November, will not go ahead after organisers failed to secure funding from Arts Council England.

The decision to cancel was made at a recent meeting of the festival’s committee.

Organisers announced the sad decision on Facebook along with the plan to change the event’s name to “Furness Litfest” following the support the committee received from Barrow and Ulverston.

The organisers have also decided to secure the future of Litfest for years to come by holding it every two years instead of annually as it is now.

Ron Creer, the event’s organiser, said he was “devastated” it was not going ahead but vowed it would return bigger and better next year.

He said: “We had known for a while that it was inevitable the festival would not go ahead.

“But when it was confirmed I was devastated. We had such a great response from people last year so we knew we had to make it even better this time. Unfortunately, we cannot do that because we didn’t get the funding we wanted.”

Mr Creer said the committee meeting ended with a “positive” feeling and optimism building for next year.

“The depression turned to promise,” Mr Creer said.

The festival over the weekend of November 3 included a series of events celebrating all things literary including writing workshops, sessions for pupils in schools and talks from authors.

Among those mourning the loss of this year’s festival was the mayor of Dalton, Councillor Sam Ronson.

He said: “It is a shame it is not going ahead this year. Last year’s event drew a lot of people into Dalton.”

Shaun Blezard, the artistic director of Dalton Creatives and event manager for the festival, said he was sad to lose the festival but said he was looking forward to next year.

He said: “It is definitely sad news. There a few arts events focused solely in Dalton rather than Barrow or Ulverston. It was a big draw for visitors. But we are now looking ahead to next year when it will be bigger and better than before.”

Mr Creer posted on Facebook: “We must sadly announce that Litfest 2018 has been cancelled. The Arts Council for England turned down our application for funds after many months of attempting to fulfil their criteria. Our committee is determined to carry on. But not this year. So Litfest 2019 is our target.

“We feel that we have had as much, if not more, support from Barrow and Ulverston than from Dalton itself, so it felt right to call the festival “Furness Litfest”.

Heritage Lottery-funded events such as Daltonia, a play scripted by residents in a competition, will still go ahead in November. Three performances are planned for the show, which focuses on Dalton’s history.