The full cost of Perth’s Winter Festival has been revealed.
Council chiefs spent more than £380,000 on a four-month programme of events, including the Christmas lights switch-on ceremony with chart-toppers Atomic Kitten and Basil Brush.
According to an economic study to go before councillors next week, the seasonal event was the most prosperous yet, generating £2.3 million for the local economy.
However, the show’s future success may rely on commercial sponsorship, after councillors agreed to shave £50,000 off the region’s events budget.
The Courier can also reveal that entry fees are still being considered, despite previous concerns they could ruin the event which has grown in scale and popularity over the last seven years.
Much of the £220,000 total for the Christmas lights event came from Common Good cash, but £127,261 of public money was spent on performers such as Catch Phrase host Stephen Mulhern and singer Nina Nesbitt.
Conservative councillor Angus Forbes, convener of environment and infrastructure, said he was confident the Christmas switch-on would continue to be a hit with the public despite reduced spending on events.
“Sadly, cuts to our budget mean difficult decisions,” he said.
“We felt that as the event was now running successfully, and has done for many years, and with some private sector involvement, we could reduce the public sector funding a little bit whilst retaining the event at its current standard.”
Mr Forbes said: “It’s not for elected members to determine what is done to find the savings from the events budget but we have the best events team in the business and I am confident they can make savings whilst retaining the standard of the event.”
The Courier understands admission charges for the city centre event are still being considered, although officials say they may be a logistical nightmare to implement given the sprawling nature of the show.
A total of £382,228 was spent on Winter Festival events, generating an income of £57,000.
However, a third of the 35 companies which took part in an online survey said the Christmas lights ceremony had a negative impact on business. 24% said the effect had been positive and 42% suggested there was no impact.
The council also received comments about how to improve the event, such as better layouts for market stalls.
Meanwhile, the St Andrew’s Day celebration – featuring music from the Red Hot Chilli Pipers and Richard Jobson of The Skids – cost £29,337, with an income of £1,500.
A grant of £10,000 was secured from Event Scotland for this year’s Riverside Night Lights trail which, for the first time, hosted four nights run by private firms, allowing the council to reduce its spending from £129,440 last year to just under £95,000.
In his report, Tourism and Place team leader Alan Graham described the move as “a trial to gauge the private sector appetite to partner in the event”.
Mr Graham said: “The Winter Festival has developed significantly in recent year with the Christmas Lights and Riverside Night Lights events being the key features.
“The challenge remains to develop the events to be innovative and to ‘ring the changes’ appropriately in order to ensure the events continue to attract large numbers.”
He said private sector operators could take “more significant roles” in future festivals.
Members of the environment and infrastructure committee will discuss the report at their meeting on Wednesday.