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Scotland's festival & event organisers news

Quarterly News and Information

Welcome to the latest edition of our newsletter for events and festival related news across Scotland. In this issue we talk about how Scottish festivals can be shaped by India's celebratory culture, ticket touting, food trucks at events and we have a chat with Scotland's Events and Festivals Industry Group.


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Taking inspiration from India's festival scene

The Edinburgh International Book Festival is one of the most respected and dynamic literature festivals in the world, with over 700 events for all ages. However, there's a thing or two that could be learned from India's Jaipur Literature Festival, which this year had 330,000 attendees, making it the largest festival of its kind.

Every January, some of India's most renowned language writers come together with authors from all over the globe for five days of debates, discussions and readings amongst the incredible backdrop of Jaipur's 18th-century Diggi Palace.

JLF started just nine years ago, but its growing success has encouraged other writing festivals to pop up all over the country. Events are not just focussed on books and the people who write them, but also about underlying issues that the country faces. Some sessions are deeply political, allowing important themes to be discussed, giving audiences a chance to learn from the stars in literature, all for free.

So how is the festival funded? JLF has over 60 partners and sponsors including Coca Cola, Google, Dove and most recently, Vedanta, the controversial global mining corporation heavily criticised for business practices that led to public interest litigation filed by Indian non-government organisations. JLF organisers have attempted to reassure those concerned that the festival is a platform for free expression and sponsors will not influence any of the festival's goings on.

Although Scotland shows huge diversity in its festivals, with 12 major annual festivals in Edinburgh alone, there is always room for growth. Festivals can play a part in encouraging the beginnings of new events; whether it's genre-specific events like the Crime Writers Festival in Delhi, or collaborations between like-minded festivals.

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The continued problem of ticket touting

Most tickets for events are purchased either directly at the venue, or through a reliable, primary ticket site like Ticketmaster. However, those that have got up in the early hours to try and grab a ticket to Glastonbury or Justin Bieber's world tour will know that they get snapped up pretty quickly. The next option? Turn to the secondary ticketing market, where tickets are sold at a markup.

Initially started as a means to resell tickets, these sites have over time attracted touts, who resell tickets at hugely inflated costs.

Touts have been found trying to bag around £900 for Beyonce tickets and £25,000 for Adele tickets, yet reselling tickets in the UK is still legal. In outrage, stars of the music industry, including Mumford & Sons and Florence & the Machine have signed a petition to stop touting, which will only be reviewed for debate in Parliament when it hits 100,000 signatures.

Others believe that secondary markets are genuinely helpful for consumers who can no longer attend an event and wish to sell their ticket on. It's tricky to distinguish between the different classes of secondary ticketing, but setting a limit in the difference between face value and resale value may be helpful, covering the cost of credit card and delivery fees made by the original purchaser.

After research by Which? found that the Consumer Rights Act 2015 wasn't doing a very effective job at tackling touting, there has since also been a review of the legislation. The report highlighted that more needs to be done by the primary ticketing market to stop the mass purchase of tickets by touts.

The government is yet to consider the changes suggested in the review or the petition, which is yet to reach the required signatories. Until then, event organisers should encourage ticket buyers to look at the Which? guide to official ticket selling.

Jump on the food truck bandwagon

In recent years, food trucks have become the coolest kids at the party. Whether it's due to their incredible use of small space or their practicality, novelty and speed, street food trucks tick a lot of boxes for event organisers.

Cue Fresh Revolution; a husband and wife duo who have combined experience in a number of prestigious restaurants across the UK and USA. Using 100% Scottish sourced ingredients, they hit up a number of festivals and events across the country, proving that sustainable diets are possible no matter where you are.

For years, the staple dessert at events has been the classic 99 ice cream, but given that they no longer cost 99p, it's time things were reassessed. After years of travelling and living off of street food, Callum McDougall and Mel Duncan started up their own pudding truck, The Crema Caravan. Their retro food van serves crunchy, custardy crème brûlées 'burnt to order' at events all over the UK. Of course, we still wouldn't say no to one of S. Luca's legendary ice cream's when at an event, especially if it's being served from their Rolls Royce ice cream van.

Drinks wise, the Bearded Barista has been giving Edinburghers their caffeine kick with speciality coffee from his fully functioning coffee cargo tricycle. He makes stops at Fountainbridge Fridays, The Pitt Market and Leith Market.

People are becoming increasingly concerned with where their food has come from and how it is cooked. These alternative food trucks show that there is no longer any excuse for bad grub at festivals and events.

Interview with scotland's events and festivals industry group

Brought together by the Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA), The Events and Festivals Industry Group (EFIG) coordinates the thoughts and views of the industry. The group is still finding its feet having only formed in June 2015, so we asked them what Scottish tourism means to them. Caroline Warburton from STA explains more.

What are the EFIG's main aims for the next year or so?

The sector is a broad and disparate one with no clear voice. The EFIG aims to bring together key individuals to discuss and identify the main opportunities and issues facing the sector. Once we've identified them, we can begin to determine what can be done about them.

What makes Scotland stand out in the tourism sector, compared to other countries?

The national tourism strategy 2012 identified heritage, events and festivals to be some of Scotland's key tourism assets. Visitor experiences to Scotland are rich and varied. We are a safe destination that's easily accessible and known internationally for its culture, which is still genuine and authentic.

How could Scotland's tourism sector be improved?

Everyone involved in tourism has a responsibility to make sure that we are offering the best experiences we can. We need more direct flights into Scotland and a reduction to Air Passenger Duty so we can remain internationally competitive. Once visitors have arrived, we then need to ensure there are efficient transport links and fast mobile and broadband speeds to make travelling around easy.

How important is Scotland's arts and cultural sector for bringing in visitors?

Music festivals and concerts are a hugely important part of Scotland's rich cultural experience. The 'Wish You Were Here' report, created by Oxford Economics revealed a 16% increase in overseas visitors coming to Scotland specifically for our festivals, concerts and other music related events, supporting over 3000 jobs.

What can be done to spread visitors more evenly across Scotland?

To encourage visitors to explore the whole country they need to know what there is to see and that it is easy to get there, namely marketing and transport. A joint approach will allow tourists to experience all that Scotland has to offer. Everyone in the sector has a responsibility to work together so that we can articulate the key priorities.

Scotland can be a pricey destination for visitors, is this a worry to the EFIG?

The cost of a holiday to Scotland is a concern across the industry, not just within the event and festivals sector. We know that the UK is considered expensive, however there are holiday options in Scotland for every budget. As a sector, we need to work together to highlight rising costs and the growing burden of regulation.