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Outdoor entertainment tax threatens Glasgow festivals

DF Concerts CEO Geoff Ellis warns that new concert ticket tax may force many festivals and events out of Glasgow, including DF’s Trnsmt festival and Summer Sessions

By Anna Grace on 01 Apr 2019

Geoff Ellis at Trnsmt 2017, Glasgow

Geoff Ellis

Geoff Ellis, chief executive of Scottish promoter DF Concerts, has warned Glasgow City Council that he may move flagship Glasgow event Trnsmt festival (50,000-cap.) out of the city, if a new tax on outdoor entertainment comes into force.

Council leaders voted to introduce a new concert ticket tax to raise money for the council’s budget and balance the toll taken by big events on the city’s parks. The levy would result in an additional charge of £2.50 to each ticket.

The council says that the tax would raise £650,000 a year from events such as Trnsmt, which debuted in 2017 and takes place on the weekend formerly occupied by T in the Park, Glasgow Summer Sessions (35,000-cap.) and Kelvingrove Summer Nights (2,500-cap.), with £150,000 dedicated to the upkeep of the city’s green spaces.

Ellis of DF Concerts calls the levy “well-meaning, but ill-conceived and short-sighted”.

Ellis says he now has “some difficult decisions to make” concerning the outdoor events that he runs in the city. The DF Concerts boss states that his events generated an economic impact of more than £10 million last year.

“Quite simply we are now accelerating towards the cliff edge in terms of outdoor events in this city,” Ellis told the Evening Times.

“Quite simply we are now accelerating towards the cliff edge in terms of outdoor events in this city”

“It is of concern to me that promoters and other event organisers will now be encouraged to start events in other cities knowing that our ability to attract strong artistic talent to Glasgow is compromised by hundreds of thousands of pounds per event,” states Ellis. “I now have to decide whether to lead or follow in that respect.”

As long as they put this tax in place, Glasgow’s going to suffer and it will be to the benefit of other cities,” adds Ellis, mentioning that cities such as Stirling and Dundee “are very keen for us to make use of their assets and the rental prices they’re offering us are far less than Glasgow.”

A spokesperson from the Glasgow City Council comments: “The public has told us how much they value our green spaces and how they would like to see a more direct connection between the events we host and income being invested back into our parks.

“The environmental levy is about striking an appropriate balance between supporting our green spaces and using parks to host large events,” adds the spokesperson.

According to the Trnsmt promoter, event organisers already pay “substantial environmental maintenance sums” for the use of greenfield spaces.

Trnsmt returns to Glasgow Green this year from 12 to 14 July. The three-day festival will see performances from Stormzy, Catfish and the Bottlemen, George Ezra, Snow Patrol and Jess Glynne.


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