Alcohol advertising ban Scotland: Hogmanay chiefs warn alcohol advertising curbs will inflict 'substantial damage' on Scottish cultural life
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Unique Events and Assembly Festival, who have just taken over the new year celebrations, said proposed curbs published by the Scottish Government would lead to the cancellation of major events. They said they believed a possible blanket ban on sponsorship deals with drinks companies and advertising their brands at events or advertising with them would likely lead to taking money out of Scotland.
The companies have joined forces with a host of other leading event organisers to warn of “grave concerns about the impact on Scottish culture” of any restrictions.
An open letter has been published days after Humza Yousaf, one of the main contenders to replace Nicola Sturgeon as First Minister, pledged a rethink over a consultation launched in November by the Government to tackle “one of the most pressing public health challenges that we face in Scotland”.
At the time, the Government said it wanted to reduce the appeal of alcohol to young people as well as the “triggering effect” alcohol marketing can have on heavy drinkers and people with addiction problems.
Mr Yousaf admitted the Government’s consultation had caused “some degree of concern”, but insisted that it should “still push ahead with restrictions on alcohol advertising”.
The open letter, instigated by The List magazine, warns of significant “collateral damage” from any restrictions, including “less cultural activity, smaller audiences, events and festivals cancelled, businesses closing, jobs lost and far-reaching reputational damage”. It states: “This diminishing and weakening of Scotland’s cultural vibrancy and international image is a disturbing and alarming prospect.”
Unique Events, which produced the Hogmanay festival for more than 20 years, joined forces with Assembly Festival, the longest-running venue operator at the Fringe, to form a new consortium to successfully bid to produce Edinburgh’s Hogmanay event. The two companies were then brought in at the 11thhour to produce Edinburgh’s Christmas festival.
Other backers of the new campaign include Fringe promoter and producer Gilded Balloon, the Fringe by the Sea festival in North Berwick, Pitlochry Festival Theatre and the Summerhall arts centre in Edinburgh, as well as TRNSMT and Connect festival organisers, who have warned restrictions will be "nothing short of disastrous" for the industry.
The group of event organisers have told public health minister Maree Todd “the desire for reform should not pull the rug out from under other important areas of national life”.
They added: “Income from display advertising, sponsorship and other forms of marketing by the drinks industry contribute significantly to the revenues required to put on shows, performances, events, gigs and festivals.
"Such income is part of the funding package upon which artistic and cultural venues, organisations, businesses, jobs, commissions, talent and creative opportunity depend. The loss of this income stream would have a significant and detrimental impact on our national cultural life, not just at home, but also further afield.
"Were the drinks industry to be restricted from spending this money in Scotland, it is likely to spend it elsewhere, quite possibly still funding arts and culture – just no longer in Scotland.”