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Highest Point chief lays bare £1.1m cost of festival in response to critics

Highest Point festival returns in May

A Highest Point boss has defended the Lancaster festival and revealed its £1.1m cost in response to feedback in a public survey.

Richard Dyer posted on the 'Lancaster Past and Present' group in reply to comments made about ticket pricing for the popular event at Williamson Park.

Mr Dyer, from the organising team, said that prices for the 2024 music and arts festival, which takes place over the weekend of May 10-12, remain the same as last year.

He also said: "The bill for the entire show runs close to £1.1m, as much of which is possible we try and spend as locally as possible" and that the event, which began in 2018, is "yet to break even".

The Highest Point team had asked for feedback from the community through an online survey, to help improve the event.

Mr Dyer (pictured below)'s full post on Thursday said: "Let's talk about ticket pricing.

"We've always been open to dialogue at Highest Point/A-Wing back in the day, sometimes I'm not always the best at it because frankly, I care so passionately about the events we deliver in the city.

"I'm open to conversation about the festival and everything that goes into it, so following the recent survey where pricing is mentioned a bit, as well as someone thinking we're on a cushy number with the festival then I'm happy to have open dialogue and hopefully answer any questions that people might have.

"Firstly we all fully recognise there is less money in everyone's pockets. Which is why we kept 2024 prices the same as 2023. I don't know where the dialogue this year is that prices have gone up again, but they haven't.

"Secondly, the festival is yet to break even. We are in a very fortunate position that we have backing, but with everything that has happened in the last five years, whether that be launching a festival, Brexit or Covid, the festival is finding its feet and learning what works.

"Over that period, we had to introduce a 20k fence line to stop people jumping in, in 2023 we brought in a huge welfare operation to assist with teens with no parents, we are no longer allowed to use red diesel so we pay pump prices. The list goes on...

"Furthermore Brexit took away a large amount of the hospitality workforce and the minimum wage is going up again in April, so security, bar staff etc all has an increased cost to the festival.

"Of course, out of the £68.50 for a day's festival, 20% goes straight to the VAT man. A further percentage to PRS so we see about £51 of a ticket.

"Licence wise we are allowed 9999 people and that includes all the staff, artists, whatever - so around about 8500 ticket sales. In comparison other festivals in the area have around three times that amount - but pay the same amount for artists.

"I can't contractually disclose how much artists cost, but overall we spend about 500k on entertainment for the weekend, so rough matchbox figures are close to 10,000 sales just for the artists. Which really isn't a lot - some of the artists that get suggested we should have on the main stage would cost that amount for one 90 minute show.

"But of course, on top of the artists there's the stages, fencing, light, sound, generators, security, park hire, internet network and 50 CCTV cameras, security, wages, food, marketing, accommodation, buggies, an ENDLESS amount of stuff across the three weeks we operate in the park. The bill for the entire show runs close to £1.1m, as much of which is possible we try and spend as locally as possible.

"So that's where your ticket price goes. We know it's not the cheapest day out, and we're always looking at ways of keeping it lower but that's the state of play as of today. And we really appreciate everyone that comes along and joins in the fun, because it's a pleasure bringing Highest Point to Lancaster."

Tom Odell, Sam Ryder (pictured below) and Cat Burns are among the artists performing on the Friday at this year's Highest Point, while Busted (also pictured) will headline on the Saturday.

Beyond Radio will be hosting the Big Family Day Out on Day 3 of the festival, Sunday May 12.

Read more: Beyond Radio to once again host Big Family Day Out at Highest Point festival - Beyond Radio

A 'Lancaster Rocks' night of tributes to the Foo Fighters, Oasis and Queen has also been announced for the Sunday night.

Headliners at previous Highest Point festivals have included the Kaiser Chiefs, Richard Ashcroft, Sister Sledge, Rag ‘n’ Bone Man, James and Anne-Marie.

More information – including ticket details and the full line-up for this year – is available here.

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