Literary event is less of a burden on the public purse

The Borders Book Festival 2016  in the gardens of Harmony House, Melrose attracted large crowds.   Picture by Alex Hewitt/Writer Pictures
The Borders Book Festival 2016 in the gardens of Harmony House, Melrose attracted large crowds. Picture by Alex Hewitt/Writer Pictures

The Borders Book Festival is costing taxpayers less than it used to and event chairman Michael Moore hopes to continue that downward trend.

The Melrose event’s annual accounts to December 31, 2015, reveal that the four-day festival held in June that year cost taxpayers £59,125.

That is well down on the £72,555 burden to the public purse in 2014 in the form of one-off subsidies by Scottish Borders Council and VisitScotland.

Last year’s literary extravaganza recorded a net profit of £1,765, a sizeable turnaround from the deficit of £6,488 in 2014. Total revenue for 2015 was £257,235, up from £256,420 the year before, and overall costs fell from £256,420 to £255,150.

The accounts also reveal that trustees approved payments to trustees Alistair Moffat and Paula Ogilvie, of £21,250 each for the work they put into staging last year’s event.

Welcoming the figures, Borders MP Mr Moore reported that the 2015 festival at Harmony House attracted an attendance of 22,300 for 92 individual events, up from 18,000 for 62 events in 2014.

A major factor in the success was the creation of more venues.

“We estimate that, once again, 30% of our ticket purchasers were visitors from outwith the Borders.”

Festival ticket and book sales in 2015 yielded £138,301, up from £126,889 in 2014, and income from sponsors, including investment management firm Brewin Dolphin, also rose from £38,000 to £42,392, as did subscriptions and donations.

“The return to a modest net income for the period under review was welcome,” says Mr Moore. “As a grant-receiving charity putting on a high-cost book festival for the public benefit, we aim broadly to cover our operating costs, rather than make profits, but we also aim to limit our dependence on public-sector grants.”