THE EDINBURGH International Festival has been forced to apologise after issuing misleading box office figures at the end of this year’s event.
Organisers claimed an 11 per cent increase in sales and insisted it had been a “record year”.
But official figures released by the city council show an increase of less than 1 per cent.
The Festival was adamant that that figure was wrong as complimentary tickets, which count towards the final audience numbers, had not been factored in.
It also said the amount of money generated by the box office had increased in each of the past four years, from £2.59 million in 2009 to £2.84m this year.
But The Scotsman has learned that Festival audiences were actually higher in 2008, 2009 and 2010 than they were this year. This is despite the advent of a major new venue at Ingliston, which boosted the Festival’s capacity by 10,000 and featured a new production of Macbeth, as well as the nightly Speed of Light show on Arthur’s Seat for up to 800 spectators.
The Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) has now admitted it made a mistake in claiming an 11 per cent rise – but says the actual figure should be 4 per cent when free tickets for the likes of sponsors, competition winners, delegates and press are taken into account.
The figure for an increase in box office takings was also less than claimed at the time – 7.9 per cent rather than 9 per cent.
The Scotsman has leaned the official attendance at this year’s Festival was 141,544 – some 5,000 less than the figures held by the council for both 2009 and 2010.
The EIF said it would be issuing a new set of figures to the council, which has just published its annual audit of the festivals, to clarify its box office performance this year.
However, it said it wanted to issue a “mea culpa” to clarify the situation as it had “forgotten” to include some figures in the analysis it provided.
It also admitted it had “overstated” its increase in sales this year, as it had not included the visual arts elements of last year’s programme.
A spokeswoman for the EIF said “human error” had been to blame and denied there had been any deliberate attempt to mislead. She said: “A mistake was made in the figure we originally reported to the council, with the result that the 2012 ticketed attendance was understated.
“Unlike previous years, we forgot to include tickets issued as free – which includes complimentary tickets as well as special offers, such as two-for-one deals where the second ticket is marked as free.
“The correct figure for all tickets issued in 2012 is 141,544, which is a 4 per cent rise on tickets issued for 2011. This revised figure is now being sent to the council.”
“The percentage rise of tickets sold reported in our end-of-festival release was overstated compared with 2011, as the comparison was made with our box office report in 2011, which did not include numbers for a visual art exhibition.”
A council spokesman said: “We are aware of an issued with the figures provided by the Edinburgh International Festival. All the figures for our report are provided by each of the festivals and we rely on their information.”
Previously, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe was caught out inflating its box office numbers by including “estimates” of attendances at some free shows.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Wednesday 22 May 2013
Temperature: 3 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 5 C to 11 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: North west