The so-called Festival of Brexit – actually called UNBOXED, for reasons unknown – has finished and the National Audit Office (NAO) has published its report into the nine-month, £120 million horlicks. It cannot conceal the scale of the absurdities the taxpayer stumped up for. In this post-referendum festival, planned as a celebration of British creativity along the lines of the Great Exhibition of 1851 and the Festival of Britain 1951, approved projects included:
The report goes on to conclude that the festival failed to meet its audience engagement targets, despite all the cash: “In aggregate, the target for audience engagement was 9.2 million people under the base case.” The project was overseen by DCMS via a Programme Board with reps from the Treasury, Cabinet Office and DCMS staff.
A definitive sketch of the festival was written by Stuart McGurk for Politics Home (now 404’d). He reported that Oliver Dowden was the minister who first folded when organisers demanded that no mention of Brexit be allowed anywhere, for anything. McGurk’s account of the subsequent hustles, muddles and misconceptions causes jaws to fall. In his conclusion, he recalls watching footage of Tour de Moon’s finale musical act. It was, he says, “as perfect, in my mind, an artistic response to our current times as one could imagine. It is four people, in front of four microphones, simply screaming at the top of their lungs.
“ARGGGGHHGHHHHHHHHHH!” comes the sound from her MacBook Air as it begins to vibrate. “ARGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH!” it continues.
British creativity – the envy of the world.