Call for Illuminating York admission charges to be axed following ticket sales shortfall

York Press: Clifford’s Tower is lit up as part of the Illuminating York festival last year Clifford’s Tower is lit up as part of the Illuminating York festival last year

TICKET sales for a York festival which lit up city landmarks left a £20,000 budget shortfall and sparked calls for admission charges to be axed.

Official figures obtained by City of York Council’s Liberal Democrat group showed 9,562 tickets were sold for the 2013 Illuminating York event, compared with 18,298 the year before. The party claimed rising prices were a key factor.

“Dual tickets” gave entry for events both at the Museum Gardens and Clifford’s Tower and 6,659 were sold, while 2,903 tickets allowing admission to one venue were purchased. The Lib Dems said £60,000 in ticket income was forecast but sales raised only £40,000 after VAT.

The council said the 2013 shortfall was balanced by a 2012 profit, and better city-centre footfall during the event – held between October 30 and November 2 – benefited York’s economy and visitor attractions, while bad weather may have affected ticket sales.

The 2012 festival, when charges were introduced for the first time, included a production by comedian Vic Reeves but was heavily criticised.

Coun Nigel Ayre, Lib Dem leisure, culture and tourism spokesman, said Illuminating York was being “brought to its knees” by the Labour council.

He said: “Labour first introduced charging to fund a celebrity-led production considered a let-down by the public and, despite this, increased prices further for 2013.

“Although this event was better received by those who did attend, it appears 2012’s problems and the price increase has put people off. Illuminating York was free under the previous Lib Dem administration, and Labour should think again about their approach and consider a return to this successful model.”

Gill Cooper, the council’s head of culture, heritage and tourism, said Illuminating York included 30 events, some free, and footfall during the festival was 29,620, 3,057 up on 2012 and 6,602 more than 2011.

She said: “This indicates the festival is contributing to the local economy, as does high attendance at partner events including the National Railway Museum, which 10,500 people attended, and York Minster, which welcomed 4,000 visitors.

“The £20,300 profit from the 2012 festival helped offset the 2013 shortfall and reflects the inevitable fluctuation we factor in, alongside bad weather on two evenings. This festival also generates important national media coverage.”

Comments (13)

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10:41am Mon 20 Jan 14

Blythespirit says...

2013s Illuminating York Festival was marred by the weather, but was otherwise worth paying for. I was rather doubtful, after the Vic Reeves debacle in 2012, but very pleasantly surprised to find the festival back to it's usual high standard.
2013s Illuminating York Festival was marred by the weather, but was otherwise worth paying for. I was rather doubtful, after the Vic Reeves debacle in 2012, but very pleasantly surprised to find the festival back to it's usual high standard. Blythespirit

11:18am Mon 20 Jan 14

lezyork1966 says...

I have attended the free events, took photos, shared them on twitter and facebook and youtube, people get to see it, and it generates interest, and possible visits.

Last two years I thought why the hell should I pay to see this to show to post for others, its costing me to be an ambassador to my city, stuff that, and I stayed at home. no photos, no videos, no people far and wide seeing a real representation of what was to be seen, then again considering what people who did go where saying, video evidence of it is probably best lost...

And while I'm here, said it before, saying it again, those replacement lanterns on lendal bridge look like something plastic from disneyworld. naff cheap trashy compared to the ones in the middle
I have attended the free events, took photos, shared them on twitter and facebook and youtube, people get to see it, and it generates interest, and possible visits. Last two years I thought why the hell should I pay to see this to show to post for others, its costing me to be an ambassador to my city, stuff that, and I stayed at home. no photos, no videos, no people far and wide seeing a real representation of what was to be seen, then again considering what people who did go where saying, video evidence of it is probably best lost... And while I'm here, said it before, saying it again, those replacement lanterns on lendal bridge look like something plastic from disneyworld. naff cheap trashy compared to the ones in the middle lezyork1966

11:52am Mon 20 Jan 14

Dave Taylor says...

As the festival costs a fortune to put on I suppose it's only reasonable that there's a small charge. The rise in price probably put a few people off, as did the weather, but the show was a vast improvement on the puerile show provided by so-called comedian Vic Reeves. He was the only one laughing... all the way to the bank! Many people would have been so disappointed with the show in 2012 that they didn't bother to return for 2013. That's a shame as it was a distinct improvement.
As the festival costs a fortune to put on I suppose it's only reasonable that there's a small charge. The rise in price probably put a few people off, as did the weather, but the show was a vast improvement on the puerile show provided by so-called comedian Vic Reeves. He was the only one laughing... all the way to the bank! Many people would have been so disappointed with the show in 2012 that they didn't bother to return for 2013. That's a shame as it was a distinct improvement. Dave Taylor

12:21pm Mon 20 Jan 14

whitehorse says...

I would be happier to pay a universal fee that gave me access to all areas, rather than just paying for each even individually. I understand that this option was available, but I'd do away with the individual attraction cost all together. Also, I'd hope to get into some of the other fringe shows, like the Minster and the Treasurers House. Almost worth making the ticket cost slightly more and offering the wider choice. But not too much more...
I would be happier to pay a universal fee that gave me access to all areas, rather than just paying for each even individually. I understand that this option was available, but I'd do away with the individual attraction cost all together. Also, I'd hope to get into some of the other fringe shows, like the Minster and the Treasurers House. Almost worth making the ticket cost slightly more and offering the wider choice. But not too much more... whitehorse

12:30pm Mon 20 Jan 14

Stevie D says...

Nigel Ayre wrote:
Although this event was better received by those who did attend, it appears 2012’s problems and the price increase has put people off.

That isn't true. As 2012 showed, people were prepared to pay for the event when they were expecting it to be good (as it had been before that). Unfortunately the 2012 event was such an appallingly awful spectacle that thousands of people who went to it vowed that they would not be conned like that again, and steered well clear of it last year. While the price increases may have put a few people off, it was the disaster the year before that was principally responsible for the low turn-out this time round.
[quote][bold]Nigel Ayre[/bold] wrote: Although this event was better received by those who did attend, it appears 2012’s problems and the price increase has put people off.[/quote] That isn't true. As 2012 showed, people were prepared to pay for the event when they were expecting it to be good (as it had been before that). Unfortunately the 2012 event was such an appallingly awful spectacle that thousands of people who went to it vowed that they would not be conned like that again, and steered well clear of it last year. While the price increases may have put a few people off, it was the disaster the year before that was principally responsible for the low turn-out this time round. Stevie D

2:14pm Mon 20 Jan 14

MrsHoney says...

I don't understand the logic here. They are saying there was a shortfall in funding but also that there are calls to cancel charging altogether. Who is going to pay for it then?!? Won't there be an even bigger shortfall?!?! Sounds crazy to me.
I don't understand the logic here. They are saying there was a shortfall in funding but also that there are calls to cancel charging altogether. Who is going to pay for it then?!? Won't there be an even bigger shortfall?!?! Sounds crazy to me. MrsHoney

3:14pm Mon 20 Jan 14

the original Homer says...

Stevie D wrote:
Nigel Ayre wrote: Although this event was better received by those who did attend, it appears 2012’s problems and the price increase has put people off.
That isn't true. As 2012 showed, people were prepared to pay for the event when they were expecting it to be good (as it had been before that). Unfortunately the 2012 event was such an appallingly awful spectacle that thousands of people who went to it vowed that they would not be conned like that again, and steered well clear of it last year. While the price increases may have put a few people off, it was the disaster the year before that was principally responsible for the low turn-out this time round.
Why is the first post untrue - you seem to say the same things?

You are both saying 2012 was bad, and that's why many avoided the 2013 event.

You both say people were happy to pay the 2012 price (but expected a better event than they got).

NIgel said those who actually did go this year thought it was better, you didn't argue that.

He also said people didn't want to pay any more than they paid in 2012, you didn't argue that either (you simply said tehy were willing to pay something, which he agreed with).

I just don't see how you can comment that a post is untrue and then agree with it.
[quote][p][bold]Stevie D[/bold] wrote: [quote][bold]Nigel Ayre[/bold] wrote: Although this event was better received by those who did attend, it appears 2012’s problems and the price increase has put people off.[/quote] That isn't true. As 2012 showed, people were prepared to pay for the event when they were expecting it to be good (as it had been before that). Unfortunately the 2012 event was such an appallingly awful spectacle that thousands of people who went to it vowed that they would not be conned like that again, and steered well clear of it last year. While the price increases may have put a few people off, it was the disaster the year before that was principally responsible for the low turn-out this time round.[/p][/quote]Why is the first post untrue - you seem to say the same things? You are both saying 2012 was bad, and that's why many avoided the 2013 event. You both say people were happy to pay the 2012 price (but expected a better event than they got). NIgel said those who actually did go this year thought it was better, you didn't argue that. He also said people didn't want to pay any more than they paid in 2012, you didn't argue that either (you simply said tehy were willing to pay something, which he agreed with). I just don't see how you can comment that a post is untrue and then agree with it. the original Homer

7:27pm Mon 20 Jan 14

Dr Brian says...

MrsHoney wrote:
I don't understand the logic here. They are saying there was a shortfall in funding but also that there are calls to cancel charging altogether. Who is going to pay for it then?!? Won't there be an even bigger shortfall?!?! Sounds crazy to me.
More evidence that the Lib dems have no idea when it comes to managing a budget
[quote][p][bold]MrsHoney[/bold] wrote: I don't understand the logic here. They are saying there was a shortfall in funding but also that there are calls to cancel charging altogether. Who is going to pay for it then?!? Won't there be an even bigger shortfall?!?! Sounds crazy to me.[/p][/quote]More evidence that the Lib dems have no idea when it comes to managing a budget Dr Brian

7:27pm Mon 20 Jan 14

velvetdixie says...

I had brought small tour groups to the illumination a few times over the years, most recently in 2012. The reaction to that display was so strongly negative that we gave York a miss entirely in 2013. The reviews of the most recent event were good enough that I regretted that decision. The entry feel was not an issue and the increased charge would not have been for the 2013 event. Whether or not there are fees for future events is, for my group, a moot point. However no decision will be made until very close to the 2014 illumination and we can estimate whether it will be worth the very expensive journey to attend. Pray the 2012 disaster is never repeated.

In short, fees for many potential attendees is not much of a factor but quality of presentation most definitely is.
I had brought small tour groups to the illumination a few times over the years, most recently in 2012. The reaction to that display was so strongly negative that we gave York a miss entirely in 2013. The reviews of the most recent event were good enough that I regretted that decision. The entry feel was not an issue and the increased charge would not have been for the 2013 event. Whether or not there are fees for future events is, for my group, a moot point. However no decision will be made until very close to the 2014 illumination and we can estimate whether it will be worth the very expensive journey to attend. Pray the 2012 disaster is never repeated. In short, fees for many potential attendees is not much of a factor but quality of presentation most definitely is. velvetdixie

7:57pm Mon 20 Jan 14

queenselphie says...

I personally look forward to illuminating York all year and don't mind paying a small ammount to keep it going in tough economic times. People are just used to getting something for nothing, like the way they complained when the charge for the York Card was introduced.
I personally look forward to illuminating York all year and don't mind paying a small ammount to keep it going in tough economic times. People are just used to getting something for nothing, like the way they complained when the charge for the York Card was introduced. queenselphie

1:21am Tue 21 Jan 14

Dave Ruddock says...

i like to raise this point, this lights show can be seen from multible angles and from loads of places, therefiorr charging in counter intuitif, , weather fot 2013 was not good and locations where good. but lets think on it, do u charge york , who are the electric payers in the end suffer again for norrow minded event organisers, check the 5th nov lights catastrify , private ciompant that fained to get its act togear=ther now lights in york . come on waKE UP AGAIN
i like to raise this point, this lights show can be seen from multible angles and from loads of places, therefiorr charging in counter intuitif, , weather fot 2013 was not good and locations where good. but lets think on it, do u charge york , who are the electric payers in the end suffer again for norrow minded event organisers, check the 5th nov lights catastrify , private ciompant that fained to get its act togear=ther now lights in york . come on waKE UP AGAIN Dave Ruddock

3:17am Tue 21 Jan 14

Magicman! says...

lezyork1966 wrote:
I have attended the free events, took photos, shared them on twitter and facebook and youtube, people get to see it, and it generates interest, and possible visits.

Last two years I thought why the hell should I pay to see this to show to post for others, its costing me to be an ambassador to my city, stuff that, and I stayed at home. no photos, no videos, no people far and wide seeing a real representation of what was to be seen, then again considering what people who did go where saying, video evidence of it is probably best lost...

And while I'm here, said it before, saying it again, those replacement lanterns on lendal bridge look like something plastic from disneyworld. naff cheap trashy compared to the ones in the middle
Those lanterns are actually the original electric lanterns from 1922... but refurbished to run LED. The refurbishment has been done to a budget though, which means the perspex panels are only held in place by silicone sealant, and the cable entry point is less than ideal. In addition the LED control circuits seem like cheap products, as two have already failed before the lanterns have even seen a year of use. The original lanterns to the bridge, including on the middle, were gas box-type lanterns - all of them were replaced by electric bespoke Gothic style electric lanterns in 1922/3, going by photographic records; and whilst one or two of the Gothic lanterns remained right up until 2009, the middle ones on the bridge deck itself were replaced by imitation reproduction lanterns in a similar style to those on Westminster Bridge in about 1963 (which is when most of the others were removed due to new lanterns being fitted to the tollhouses and a short column with double-lantern bracket by Lendal Tower).

The council were orignnally going to have the reproduction lanterns on Ouse Bridge refurbished to run LED too, but they ruled it out on cost grounds (this being the same council that's done what it's done to Kings Square, and insists on the 20mph limits everywhere), and instead the lamps inside were changed to white light instead. But those have perspex panels in them too. It's not safe to have glass in lanterns which are mounted so low, especially in areas where drunks are likely to climb up and try to punch them.

----

As for Illuminating York (the title being very loosely applied, as rather than the city itself, it's just 3 or 4 main areas with extra lights on)... the city council should be looking towards the town they partnered up with: Blackpool.
Blackpool's illuminations are provided free of any compulsory charge every year, and yet clearly make enough money to merit the show having gone on each year since to 1950's. Collection boxes are posted and marked at strategic locations along the route, so those who appreciate the lights can put an amount of money of their choice into the boxes. Persons using public transport can board an illuminated tramcar (which are only used for the public during the illuminations season, and only at night), and pay £5 for a ticket which allow a single tour of the lights - but the trip isn't compulsory.

I'm not saying York should go quite as tacky as Blackpool, because that's what happened in 2012 in the museum gardens display... but more of York should be illuminated, the river should be a feature (perhaps copy what has been done in Vietnam at night: float boats out which are lit by candles, and float significant numbers of chinese-style candles on the river itself) - create a reproduction Viking longboat that is illuminated, and sail it up and down the river taking on passengers for a small charge; fit LED floodlights to illuminate the sides of Lendal Bridge in blue or green light, with LEDs under the bridge deck to create a pool of coloured light eminating out from the bridge, the light being seen through the gaps in the Gothic ironwork. Project images onto the Park Inn, the Guildhall, or the backs of the shop buildings along there; put up festoon lighting from one end of Ouse Bridge to the other, perhaps suspending them from catenary cables so as to then also allow extra lights above the road to be shaped to create Viking scenes, or scenes of York landmarks all lit up in LED... be inventive.

As the Christmas lights debacle show up every year, York is far too conservative when it comes to lighting up, and when you go too conservative then another word to describe it is "boring". Council documents regarding possible ways of lighting up certain streets has a sentance which specifically states the specification should not use coloured lights "as there is a place for such lighting, and York isn't it".
[quote][p][bold]lezyork1966[/bold] wrote: I have attended the free events, took photos, shared them on twitter and facebook and youtube, people get to see it, and it generates interest, and possible visits. Last two years I thought why the hell should I pay to see this to show to post for others, its costing me to be an ambassador to my city, stuff that, and I stayed at home. no photos, no videos, no people far and wide seeing a real representation of what was to be seen, then again considering what people who did go where saying, video evidence of it is probably best lost... And while I'm here, said it before, saying it again, those replacement lanterns on lendal bridge look like something plastic from disneyworld. naff cheap trashy compared to the ones in the middle[/p][/quote]Those lanterns are actually the original electric lanterns from 1922... but refurbished to run LED. The refurbishment has been done to a budget though, which means the perspex panels are only held in place by silicone sealant, and the cable entry point is less than ideal. In addition the LED control circuits seem like cheap products, as two have already failed before the lanterns have even seen a year of use. The original lanterns to the bridge, including on the middle, were gas box-type lanterns - all of them were replaced by electric bespoke Gothic style electric lanterns in 1922/3, going by photographic records; and whilst one or two of the Gothic lanterns remained right up until 2009, the middle ones on the bridge deck itself were replaced by imitation reproduction lanterns in a similar style to those on Westminster Bridge in about 1963 (which is when most of the others were removed due to new lanterns being fitted to the tollhouses and a short column with double-lantern bracket by Lendal Tower). The council were orignnally going to have the reproduction lanterns on Ouse Bridge refurbished to run LED too, but they ruled it out on cost grounds (this being the same council that's done what it's done to Kings Square, and insists on the 20mph limits everywhere), and instead the lamps inside were changed to white light instead. But those have perspex panels in them too. It's not safe to have glass in lanterns which are mounted so low, especially in areas where drunks are likely to climb up and try to punch them. ---- As for Illuminating York (the title being very loosely applied, as rather than the city itself, it's just 3 or 4 main areas with extra lights on)... the city council should be looking towards the town they partnered up with: Blackpool. Blackpool's illuminations are provided free of any compulsory charge every year, and yet clearly make enough money to merit the show having gone on each year since to 1950's. Collection boxes are posted and marked at strategic locations along the route, so those who appreciate the lights can put an amount of money of their choice into the boxes. Persons using public transport can board an illuminated tramcar (which are only used for the public during the illuminations season, and only at night), and pay £5 for a ticket which allow a single tour of the lights - but the trip isn't compulsory. I'm not saying York should go quite as tacky as Blackpool, because that's what happened in 2012 in the museum gardens display... but more of York should be illuminated, the river should be a feature (perhaps copy what has been done in Vietnam at night: float boats out which are lit by candles, and float significant numbers of chinese-style candles on the river itself) - create a reproduction Viking longboat that is illuminated, and sail it up and down the river taking on passengers for a small charge; fit LED floodlights to illuminate the sides of Lendal Bridge in blue or green light, with LEDs under the bridge deck to create a pool of coloured light eminating out from the bridge, the light being seen through the gaps in the Gothic ironwork. Project images onto the Park Inn, the Guildhall, or the backs of the shop buildings along there; put up festoon lighting from one end of Ouse Bridge to the other, perhaps suspending them from catenary cables so as to then also allow extra lights above the road to be shaped to create Viking scenes, or scenes of York landmarks all lit up in LED... be inventive. As the Christmas lights debacle show up every year, York is far too conservative when it comes to lighting up, and when you go too conservative then another word to describe it is "boring". Council documents regarding possible ways of lighting up certain streets has a sentance which specifically states the specification should not use coloured lights "as there is a place for such lighting, and York isn't it". Magicman!

9:33am Tue 21 Jan 14

Stevie D says...

MrsHoney wrote:
I don't understand the logic here. They are saying there was a shortfall in funding but also that there are calls to cancel charging altogether. Who is going to pay for it then?!? Won't there be an even bigger shortfall?!?! Sounds crazy to me.
Maybe it's about making it more predictable. If you know that it's going to cost a certain amount then you budget for that, and you know that you've got enough money in the kitty to cover it. If you're expecting to cover the costs with ticket sales and then you only sell half the number of tickets, you've got a shortfall, and that's what plays havoc with budgets. It's only a shortfall if it's less than you've planned for.
[quote][p][bold]MrsHoney[/bold] wrote: I don't understand the logic here. They are saying there was a shortfall in funding but also that there are calls to cancel charging altogether. Who is going to pay for it then?!? Won't there be an even bigger shortfall?!?! Sounds crazy to me.[/p][/quote]Maybe it's about making it more predictable. If you know that it's going to cost a certain amount then you budget for that, and you know that you've got enough money in the kitty to cover it. If you're expecting to cover the costs with ticket sales and then you only sell half the number of tickets, you've got a shortfall, and that's what plays havoc with budgets. It's only a shortfall if it's less than you've planned for. Stevie D

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