While my tone on Twitter has been a bit dry to the whole MTV European Music Awards (#mtvema/#mtvemas) there’s a buzz in Belfast that I’m sure can’t be beat.  If it’s the same buzz as standing in front of 5000 people and doing a live gig (and yes, I have) then I know exactly how it feels.


(Lady Gaga, falling off a sofa previously)

Now to the sordid question of the numbers. What do we know… Belfast City Council put in an amount and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) put in an amount. With the concert capacity at around 14,000 it works out as a cost to ratepayer/funding body at just over £78 per head.

My issue is with non of that, it’s with the media and the “it will bring nMillion pounds to the economy”.  If you can’t measure it then you’ll never know.

One phrase that always springs to mind when I read/hear that phrase is, “do not accept what you cannot verify for yourself”.

If you look at the 14,000, remember we haven’t factored in the freebie tickets and the dignitaries, where exactly are they going to spend their cash? If the pictures of Victoria Square are anything to go by excessive crowds will have a negative spend effect not a positive one.

The non fiscal data makes sense, it’s great for Belfast, it’s a great way of highlighting Northern Ireland as a whole in the media arena. Will any acts ever come back and perform, more than likely not as it’s normally out of their control anyway, promoters decide based on hard numbers and very little else.  This is a about profit and return on investment, it’s very rarely about art.

So what I read headlines like:


Music awards worth estimated £10m for Belfast

My immediate response is, “how?”.

Over what timeframe?

Over what sectors?

And how is it measured?

And when we will see a report that it was worth the risk?

Rest assured, the week after next this will all be forgotten about and the figures will be immaterial until the next rate bill comes for Belfast and you realise you’re footing the bill for it.

I applaud the risk takers who said YES to this. Good luck, I’m looking forward to seeing the results.