Edinburgh tattoo drums up support for global shows
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.”