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Gibraltar ‘cannot afford loss-making music festival’ - Azopardi

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The GSD has today said it is ‘obvious’ that current arrangements regarding the music festival are not working, insisting that if it were in Government, it would cut costs and return the event to greater local organising control.

In a statement just days ahead of the event, party leader Keith Azopardi said the agreement with Neon Angel Limited and MTV was announced to great fanfare but had fallen short of expectations.

“It was supposed to constitute a revamp of the festival to improve it, result in an economic benefit to Gibraltar and greater availability of music acts,” he said.

“Instead the music festival had losses of over £3.1 million last year – the highest ever - and could face even larger losses this year given the diminished list of acts, worse timing of the festival and the undoubted effect on ticket sales.”

Mr Azopardi flagged media reports over the last twelve months which, he said, casts serious doubt on whether the television show which was one of the Government’s selling points of the MTV brand is actually being viewed by that many people.

The Government had proclaimed the audience could be one billion, he said.

“In fact figures released by the Broadcasters Audience Research Board [BARB] who compiles and monitors audience viewing figures in the UK show that only 6,200 people viewed the highlights programme when it was broadcast in the UK.”

He explained that given the current economic climate, Brexit uncertainties and general state of public finances Gibraltar can ill afford these systematic financial losses on the music festival.

“It is therefore important to put in place greater financial control and measures designed to make it a financial success and not just a cultural event.”

“The GSD is in favour of organising cultural and entertainment events such as these but they need to be managed responsibly. This is not the Government’s money – it is the people’s money” said Mr Azopardi.

Additionally, he asserted that the Gibraltar Music Festival was a greater success when there was larger local involvement in organisation and control.

“Lessons need to be learned from the past and there needs to be a review of who is charged with organising this festival.”

“These important contracts should also go out to tender.”

“In the fringes of the music festival the Government indulges in VVIP entertainment for itself, political party friends and families that is fast becoming an annual grace and favour jamboree.”

“This is completely at odds with the picture of losses and lack of success of the 2017 event that has emerged over the last 12 months that call into question the current arrangements.”

As such the GSD said it will not be accepting any invitations to the Government’s VVIP enclosure and pledged that it would not have such an enclosure if elected to Government.

“It is not right that public monies be spent on the Government organizing a party for its friends and families.”

“The losses are such that you could employ over 80 nurses, teachers and carers and still have money left over.”

“This is just a further example of the wastage of public monies under this GSLP Government who act as if public money was theirs to spend without regard to any control or accountability,” said Mr Azopardi.

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