The “Festival of UK” which was first announced by Theresa May was touted as a post-Brexit celebration of Britain – in 2018. Ministers had hoped that the festival would attract 66 million people, but with just over two more months to go, four of the events have so far only drawn 238,000 visitors, according to official figures.
The figures are revealed in an investigation for the latest edition of the political journal the House.
The event was soon unofficially dubbed the “Festival of Brexit”, before being reimagined as “Unboxed”.
The Dandelion festival saw one event held in Glasgow in June, with another planned for Inverness in early September and nationwide “harvest” events later that month.
A report by the House magazine stated that “everyone” they spoke to at the Glasgow event seemed to be “appalled at the very idea they were attending something once known as “The Festival of Brexit”.
Many attendees said there was a feeling they had been “tricked” into joining celebrations of the exit from the EU, claimed The National.
They said they had been unaware of the connection before attending, and that learning of it at the event left a sour taste.
Dandelion’s executive producer Jenny Niven told The House there was a “dirty money” feeling of having taken £8m to run the events despite their connection to Brexit.
Donald Shaw, the musical director of the Scotland-wide Dandelion event, said that the Scottish Government had “made clear” to the UK Government that mentioning Brexit would create trouble for the event.
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Mr Shaw told The House magazine: “It was a red-line in our contracts with Unboxed.
“When the festival was announced we said that if literally one MP stood up and said, ‘This is the festival of Brexit’, we were all going to pull out.
“The Scottish Government made that clear to the UK Government.”
The Dandelion events focused on food sustainability and their “harvests” in September will bring “people together for community meals made from food grown in that community or sourced locally, live music and long conversations, swapping stories and sharing the produce”.
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The festival, which launched on March 1 this year, has sought to distance itself from the “Festival of Brexit” label.
The series of events got its moniker from arch-Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg.
A spokesperson for Unboxed said: “There are absolutely no references to Brexit in our Full Commissioning Agreements with the 10 projects.
“With 10 projects (each delivered by multiple partners) and a significant number of events running concurrently, the plan has always been to release engagement data as part of the final evaluation.”