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Are region’s signature events value for money?

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
Are region’s signature events value for money?

A REVIEW is to be carried out on all the signature events staged in Dumfries and Galloway to evaluate if they are value for money and how many visitors they are attracting to the region.

These events, such as the World Ice Hockey Championships, Wigtown Book Festival, and Big Burns Supper, all received a total of £80,000 in funding from Dumfries and Galloway Council for 2024/25.

However, council chiefs have announced they will be assessing every signature event over the next year, looking closely at visitor numbers and economic impact.

The matter was discussed at the communities committee last week after councillors approved an events budget of £275,000 for the year ahead, which is split across three funds: signature events, major events, and regional events growth.

Councillors were also asked to agree to the Big Burns Supper in Dumfries retaining the grant of £28,400 issued to them in 2023/24 for the now postponed January 2024 festival. The money will instead be utilised to support a rearranged festival in January 2025.

Abbey Councillor Kim Lowe said: “The signature events, I believe, attract people to the region.

“What evidence do we have from them (Big Burns Supper organisers) that we do attract people from outside Dumfries and Galloway, rather than it being a very local event?”

Lee Seton, leisure, culture and wellbeing manager, said: “All our events require the completion of a monitoring template at the conclusion of that festival.”

Ian Barr, the council’s principal events officer, said: “We are undertaking a review of all the signature events, one by one, over a rolling programme of about 12 months. Big Burns Supper will be fully reviewed next January and we’ll come back with a report on it as soon as possible.

“Big Burns Supper has got a fantastic programme of community engagement, and the community engagement is perhaps one of its strengths.

“But we’ll also monitor the number of visitors that come into the region through it in 2025.”

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