In researching this month’s State of Play feature, which details the key issues threatening Dubai’s position as the region’s premier destination for international live entertainment events, your humble editor uncovered a deep sense of malcontent lurking beneath the seemingly sunny facade of the emirate’s live events production industry.
While much of what was said will come as little surprise to anyone familiar with the industry, the candidness of many who were willing to go on the record about contentious issues such as ticket tax, sponsorship and the impact of the recession not just on their business but Dubai itself may raise more than a few eyebrows.
Without a doubt, the 10 percent ticket tax levied against all live entertainment events staged outside the emirate’s freezones by Dubai Tourism, Commerce and Marketing (DTCM) remains one of the most controversial issues facing the industry.
The fact that promoters, who suffer the brunt of the levy, lead the chorus of criticism against it is hardly surprising, nor are the hackles which their collective position raises amongst others in the industry.
Yet it is this disconnect which is more surprising given that in reality, the ticket tax is doing little more than to further stifle an industry that has been in decline for the past 12 months in the face of economic recession and rapidly increasing competition from the region’s awakening giant, Abu Dhabi.
Since Sound & Stage’s inception almost three years ago, we’ve quietly campaigned for the establishment of an independent industry organisation steered by stakeholders that would represent the interests of all, particularly in dealings with government organisations such as the DTCM.
Yet, in all that time we’ve never once received more than token support for the plan, even from those who would most benefit from its creation.
This is disappointing to say the least, but hardly surprising, particularly given the overriding nature of the industry and the collective pressures it faces in the current economic downturn.
Still, recessionary times often auger in new approaches to business, particularly in divergent industries such as ours. So again, let’s throw the idea out there. By working together the industry has more to gain, than to lose.
Let us know what you think. Would the industry benefit from the establishment of a lobby group? Should the DTCM review the ticket tax?