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DCMS Committee calls for National Audit Office investigation into Unboxed festival

23 September 2022

Chair of the DCMS Committee Julian Knight MP has written to the National Audit Office to call for an investigation into the financial management and delivery of the Unboxed festival after published figures showed visitor numbers falling well short of the Government’s target.

An article on Unboxed published by Politics Home reported visitor numbers for the festival of 238,000, compared with a ‘stretch target’ of 66 million.

The Committee previously criticised the delivery of Unboxed in its report in March on major cultural and sporting events. The Report concluded that the £120million investment was ‘an irresponsible use of public money’ given the Government’s own admission that it does not know what it is for. The Committee warned that it is ‘far from clear’ that it will deliver a return on investment.

In its response to the Report, the Government maintained that Unboxed would still be a success, insisting that the event would ‘showcase the UK’s world-leading creativity and innovation in key markets and meaningfully contribute to our global positioning’.

Chair's comment

Chair of the DCMS Committee Julian Knight MP said: “The design and delivery of Unboxed has been an unadulterated shambles from the very start. The paltry numbers attracted to the festival despite such a hefty investment highlight just what an excessive waste of money the whole project has been. It would take optimism beyond belief for it to now reach its target for visitor numbers. At a time of financial pain for so many during the cost of living crisis, there are serious questions that need answering as to how such a vast amount of tax payers’ cash has been allowed to be squandered on something that we warned months ago risked turning in to a fiasco.”

Further information

Image: Parliamentary copyright