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The Independent

Pageant of Brexit chief claims ‘success’ regardless of lacking customer goal

The £120m arts pageant generally known as the Pageant of Brexit has been “very profitable”, its director has claimed, regardless of falling far in need of its goal for guests.

Organisers of Unboxed, the government-sponsored, post-Brexit programme of arts occasions, revealed on Tuesday that 2.8 million individuals had attended dwell occasions.

General viewers numbers had been 18 million, together with those that watched on-line or on TV – however fell nicely under mission’s “stretch goal” of 66 million attendees.

The Nationwide Audit Workplace is investigating the pageant after MPs on the digital, tradition, media and sport choose committee warned it was “irresponsible use of public cash”.

Defending the mission, Phil Batty, govt director of  Unboxed, mentioned it had “showcased the perfect of science, the perfect of tech and the perfect of the humanities”.

The pageant boss mentioned the 66 million goal was by no means supposed to comprise in-person guests.

Mr Batty referred to it as “a inventive ambition for the programme, it was an ambition as a result of we wished to be actually inclusive for the entire of the UK, and I believe we’ve delivered that”.

He informed BBC Radio 4’s At this time programme: “I imagine it has been very profitable, as a result of we’ve seen that whether or not that’s dwell occasions in cities and villages there’s been an financial increase.”

Mr Batty added: “But additionally we’ve seen main free cultural initiatives offered to hundreds of thousands of individuals proper throughout the UK, and that’s massively vital.”

Responding to the organisers’ last numbers, Tory MP Julian Knight, chair of the tradition choose committee maintained that the mission had been a “colossal waste of cash”.

The senior determine informed the BBC: “These last figures solely affirm the committee in its view that Unboxed has been a failure and rightly the Nationwide Audit Workplace is investigating.”

The initiative was intially branded as “Pageant UK 2022” earlier than ex-Brexit alternatives minister Jacob Rees-Mogg characterised it as a “festival of Brexit”.

Unboxed organisers have criticised the politicisation of the mission, saying it was “unlucky” that the Brexit tag had caught.

The controversy was sparked once more in September when a report in The Home journal cited figures for 4 main Unboxed dwell occasions totalling solely 238,000 attendees.

However Mr Batty mentioned all the occasions had reached a lot wider audiences, deciding to share numbers earlier than the NAO report – set to be revealed subsequent week – as a result of “there’s nonetheless misinformation on the market”.

He informed Sky Information: “The Nationwide Audit Workplace is wanting on the total programme that we delivered … It’s a serious authorities programme, and due to this fact it’s rightfully being scrutinised on behalf of the taxpayer, however we all know that they’ll discover the outcomes are actually sturdy.”

Naomi Smith, chief govt of Finest for Britain group, mentioned the pageant “is the proper metaphor for the way Brexit itself has turned out – massively costly and deeply unpopular with nobody actually getting what they wished”.

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