Page last updated at 07:53 GMT, Friday, 29 January 2010

Tolkien festival moves after row over venue space

Y Plas in Machynlleth
The festival was to have been held at the Plas

A festival celebrating Lord of the Rings writer JRR Tolkien has switched venues after a row over space.

Fans, leading academics and illustrators were set to meet at the Plas in Machynlleth, Powys in August.

But the Festival in the Shire has moved to Bont Pavilion in Pontrhydyfendigaid, near Aberystwyth, Ceredigion instead.

The organiser claimed venue management had been "unhelpful" but the Plas manager said a dispute over space had been "blown up out of all proportion".

The Festival in the Shire will discuss themes inspired by Tolkien, whose novels also include The Hobbit.

It plans to feature "internationally respected speakers", and is expected to attract thousands of visitors.

JRR Tolkien
JRR Tolkien, who died in 1973, wrote Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit

Local book dealer and event organiser Mark Faith said Tolkien's fans would have the opportunity to delve deeper into the writer's work with a conference entitled: Welsh influences on the works of JRR Tolkien.

But he said the event had now been moved.

He added: "We have had a lot of enthusiasm and support from various people in the town, especially businesses, but the help we needed most, which we haven't had, is from the Plas management.

"Two of the four meeting rooms originally promised, in which we based our decision to use the venue, were recently withdrawn without any warning whatsoever.

"That this would affect the whole feasibility of the venue was obvious and we were shocked not to be consulted, at least out of a sense of professional courtesy.

"The whole experience has been likened to dealing with yet another government quango with the usual inefficiencies and red-tape around."

Machynlleth councillor and manager of the Plas, Bob Dunn, said the issue had been "blown out of proportion".

"We support it (the event) wholeheartedly. It would have been great to have it here, the event would have brought a lot of people in.

"But there was an issue over space. It's been blown completely out of proportion.

"I would have sooner waited for this to have been held until I'd had a chance to speak to councillors about it first."

The festival will be staged between 13 and 15 August.

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