The £120million arts festival known as the ‘Brexit Festival’ saw just 238,000 visitors, well below the organisers’ most ambitious target.
Organizers of Unboxed, the government-sponsored post-Brexit arts events programme, had set a “stretch target” of 66 million attendees.
But government figures for four Unboxed events show a total of 238,000 people attending, according to The House magazine – only 0.36% of the most promising target.
In a scathing report earlier this year, MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee warned the festival was a waste of money – saying the government’s handling of the project was a “recipe for failure”.
Unboxed organizers have now criticized the politicization of the events, with director Martin Green saying it was “unfortunate” that the ‘Festival of Brexit’ tag stuck.
The initiative was temporarily branded “Festival UK* 2022” before Brexit Opportunities Minister Jacob Rees-Mogg called it a “Brexit Festival”.
Mr Green said The House“We all need to learn from this. Rule number one of major events: don’t politicize them. And unfortunately, a few have chosen to politicize it from the start.
When asked to run the festival by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), Mr Green said he asked: ‘Can I check that it is not s a Brexit festival? You don’t want some kind of jingoistic jamboree? The manager said he was sure it wouldn’t.
Some attendees at the Unboxed event allegedly insisted that Brexit was not mentioned in their contracts. A spokesperson for Unboxed said there was “absolutely no reference to Brexit” in the commissioning agreements.
Unpackaged events, scheduled for March through October this year, included the ‘About Us’ light shows and the ‘Our Place in Space’ walking trails. A spokesperson for Unboxed said they were “happy with how the audience is engaging.”
In March, MPs slammed the scoping of the project, which culture department officials touted as including “something for everyone” – although they were told it shouldn’t “be all for everybody”.
It was also feared that very few people would know the event was taking place or what it involved, as its purpose remained “vague”.
Tory MP Julian Knight, chairman of the commission, said on Thursday that “serious questions” needed to be answered about the huge sums “wasted” on the initiative.
“Despite assurances from organizers that all would be well that night, the lack of public interest is a damning condemnation of the festival from start to finish,” he said.
Mr Knight added: “With Unboxed costing four times the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations, serious questions need to be answered about the aims and achievement of the project and how it was allowed to waste such a large sum of money. taxpayers’ money.”
Naomi Smith, chief executive of the Best for Britain group, said the festival “is the perfect metaphor for how Brexit itself turned out – hugely expensive and deeply unpopular, with no one really getting what they wanted to”.
The figures for the festival have been revealed as former Brexit minister David Frost admitted he had held talks with Conservative Party associations over the possibility of becoming an MP.
Lord Frost, who resigned from Boris Johnson’s government at the end of last year, said he was “ambivalent” about being awarded a place in the House of Lords.
“If you’re going to be in politics where you actually have a finger on the buttons of power, then you really should get elected,” he said. The House.
. Festival Brexit falls dramatically falls short of target million visitors