No fees for major gigs at Ebrington

Some of the music fans among the 10,000 at the Club MTV event at Ebrington Square in Derry last summer. Picture Margaret McLaughlin �
Some of the music fans among the 10,000 at the Club MTV event at Ebrington Square in Derry last summer. Picture Margaret McLaughlin �

Ilex did not intend to charge any fee for a series of major music events at Ebrington last year, documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act reveal.

The MTV concert and a series of music gigs at its £5.5m car park were singled out for mention by its parent company Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister.

In OFMDFM briefing notes ahead of a meeting with Ilex officials in June 2015 it states:

“A copy of Ilex’s pricing policy was requested in January 2015. However, nothing has been provided and we were instructed last week that Ilex do not intend to finalise it at this point.”

It is also claimed in the notes that Ilex had not engaged with a third party “to agree a standard charge for the use of Ebrington Square.”

It is stated: “This is a concern as there are a number of high profile events which are being subsidised through the provision of a free venue, and in some cases sponsorship, by Ilex.

“There are currently 11 events scheduled to occur between June and December. Including a MTV concert and five DJ events in the underground car park. Ilex does not intend to charge for any of these.

“Ilex has argued that it is necessary, in order to build up the brand to provide the Square free of charge. Many of the events have already taken place on the Square and are returning, therefore, viability of Ebrington Square has been proven.”

At a Liaison Meeting held at Castle Buildings between unnamed officials from OFMDFM and Ilex earlier last year on April 2, 2015, it was noted that a lot of events seem to have been cancelled according to the events schedule spreadsheet for Ebrington. Questions were raised over this and Ilex asked to investigate this.

It was also noted at the meeting that the pricing policy for use of Ebrington remained at that stage in draft form.

In a further ‘Laision Meeting,’ dated June 4 and which was held at Exchange House in Derry, it was stated that there did not seem to be any single reason for events being cancelled at Ebrington.