Ed­in­burgh tat­too drums up sup­port for global shows

The Guardian - - NATIONAL - Ewen Ma­cAskill

The or­gan­is­ers of one of the big­gest draws at the Ed­in­burgh fes­ti­val, the mil­i­tary tat­too, are hop­ing to ex­pand world­wide, even­tu­ally hold­ing the event across Asia, the Mid­dle East and North and South Amer­ica.

Al­though the tat­too, which opens on 4 Au­gust, is in­deli­bly iden­ti­fied with Scot­land’s cap­i­tal, or­gan­is­ers say there is an ap­petite for it abroad. A team is trav­el­ling China in au­tumn to firm up plans for the tat­too in Bei­jing, Shang­hai and pos­si­bly Guangzhou in 2020 as a co-pro­duc­tion with the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment and Chi­nese pro­mot­ers.

The tat­too, which be­gan in 1950 and is a char­ity, has be­come a show­case for Bri­tish forces and their coun­ter­parts from around the world, at­tract­ing au­di­ences of about 220,000 at the event and 100 mil­lion on tele­vi­sion.

Brig David All­frey, who has been in charge of the tat­too since 2011, told the Guardian: “I’d love to do North Amer­ica. I’d love to do In­dia. I’d love to go to places like Brazil that are im­por­tant to the UK.” He added: “I’d love to go to Rus­sia with this. But, of course, that is a sort of cheeky propo­si­tion.”

The tat­too was held in Aus­tralia and New Zealand last year, but plans to take the event to Jor­dan and the Gulf states next year were aban­doned in Jan­uary.

One of the rea­sons for the can­cel­la­tion may have been ne­go­ti­a­tions with the Trea­sury. The cost of stag­ing the tat­too in Ed­in­burgh is just be­low £9m and is heav­ily de­pen­dent on per­son­nel pro­vided by the Min­istry of De­fence, who make up a large part of the 1,200 to 1,400 mem­bers of the forces in­volved. The value of the con­tri­bu­tion of Bri­tish per­son­nel is es­ti­mated at about £2.5m, and the Trea­sury looks afresh at that fig­ure each year.

An MoD spokesper­son said: “The MoD does not seek to re­cover all of the salary costs of those per­son­nel in­volved in the tat­too. All ex­tra costs re­lat­ing to the pro­vi­sion of mil­i­tary per­son­nel are paid by Royal Ed­in­burgh Mil­i­tary Tat­too Ltd.”

Pho­to­graph: Roberto Ric­ciuti/Getty

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