CULTURE secretary Fiona Hyslop has said a firm’s profitability is not a key consideration when handing out Scottish Government grants to big events such as the T in Park music festival.
Ms Hyslop made the admission following intense criticism for the Scottish Government’s decision to give £150,000 of taxpayers cash to the event run by DF Concerts.
The grant was given despite DF Concerts achieving record profits of £6.2 million.
Further controversy was generated by the fact that a former SNP adviser, Jennifer Dempsie, had been working for the company and set up meetings with ministers, including Ms Hyslop, ahead of the funding application.
In letter written in response to a series of queries put to her by Holyrood’s culture committee, Ms Hyslop said: “The ambition of Scotland’s National Events strategy is to develop a strong and dynamic events industry producing a portfolio of events and festivals that deliver sustainable impact and international profile for Scotland.
“In order to deliver on that ambition, the key consideration that applies when making a funding award is not the profitability of the event.
“It is, instead, the tourism and business economic benefits that Scotland will secure from either hosting a new or developing an existing event, along with the associated reputational, social and cultural benefits this will realise.”
Her letter also disclosed that a document being produced by DF Concerts detailing how the cash was spent would not be made public.
Ms Hyslop said the company was working its way through a “post event debrief process”, adding: “A report confirming how the money was spent along with the outcomes and lessons learned from staging the event at the new Strathallan site will be shared, on a commercial in confidence basis, with the Scottish Government.”
The fact that the contents of this document will be kept within the confines of the Scottish Government angered Liz Smith, the Scottish Conservative MSP and the party’s culture spokeswoman.
Ms Smith asked why it was not possible to have detailed breakdown of how the public money was spent.
Ms Smith said: “This letter raises even more questions than it answers.
“The cabinet secretary has confirmed that DF Concerts are ‘working their way through a post event debrief process’ but she also confirms that the report which details how the money was spent will only be shared in confidence with the Scottish Government.
“I am sure the public will question this on-going lack of transparency about the use of public funds.”