Showcase makes Royal Highland a virtual success

The Royal Highland Showcase finished its seven-day runat Ingliston at the weekend, with the organisers claiming that their innovative approach - which saw behind closed doors judging of livestock live-streamed over the internet - was a resounding success.

Royal Highland Show winners
Royal Highland Show winners

Designed to bridge the gap between a no-show year in 2020 and the 180th Show which is due to take place in 2022 - marking the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland’s (RHASS) 200th anniversary - the 2021 live-streamed event attracted more than 270,000 on-line views of their week-long programme.

Society chairman, Bill Gray yesterday revealed that the close to 300 hours of content had also been an international success, being watched in 87 countries around the globe.

And with two million engagements on social media, the society praised all those involved in the ‘monumental effort’ which had seen the concept being formulated, funded and delivered in less than 12 weeks.

“When we reimagined a hybrid Royal Highland Show we couldn’t have believed it would have had such a monumental impact on so many people from right across the globe,” said Gray.

He said that the success of the venture was such that it was planned to take the hybrid concept forward into future years.

However, he admitted that trial-running the technology and organisational skills required to put the on-line part of the event into effect had been easier in the absence of the usual crowds - and account of this would need to be factored into future plans.

On the financial side of the venture, RHASS chief executive Alan Laidlaw said that while the Highland Show was generally the major earner for the society over the course of the year, the showcase had been planned on a break-even basis - and that it was likely to be delivered on budget.

He added that it had always been expected that the society would be calling on the Scottish government’s full contribution of £750,000 and together with sponsorship from various organisations, including the Royal Bank of Scotland, he expected costs to be covered.

On the wider income front, Laidlaw also said that new income streams – such as the use of show organisation facilities by the Royal Mail over Christmas and the use of the new members pavilion as an NHS Covid vaccination centre - had placed the society in a better financial situation than had been expected.

He also added that with the cancellation of the show once again this year, another insurance claim would be lodged.

Commenting on the event’s success, Rural Affairs cabinet secretary Mairi Gougeon said the showcase had marked a step change for the Royal Highland Show - and for Scottish agriculture.

“Through the new website and online videos, people, farms and businesses across the world were able to experience Scottish agriculture and food and drink,” said Gougeon.

“I look forward to seeing the long-term benefits from the £750,000 of the Scottish government funding and seeing how we can continue showing people the best of Scotland’s animals and produce.”


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