Concert venue

Glasgow flagship concert venue set to have record year as Hydro chief calls for support for expansion plan


IT was on the verge of breaking records when the pandemic struck, but now Glasgow’s world-class entertainment venue looks to the future when it hosts more performances than ever in a single year.

SSE Hydro, part of the SEC Glasgow campus, will host 180 performances in 2022 thanks to a combination of rescheduled and newly added dates as it recovers from the lockdown and covid restrictions.

And while Peter Duthie, Managing Director of the Scottish Event Campus, said they were proud to be able to play their part during the pandemic when the concert and conference campus hosted the NHS Louisa Jordan Hospital, a hospital specially established to do Faced with the rise of covid cases, he says they are eager to bring world class events and deeds back to Glasgow.

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Mr Duthie said: “Next year is shaping up to be an extremely busy year for us as long as things are moving in a reasonable and positive way. We have 180 shows planned in Hydro for 2022, compared to our previous best of 144 shows in 2019.

“There has been a massive demand for pent-up activities and people are desperate to go out and do things that reflect what you would describe as a more normal lifestyle.

“When the relaxations were announced for August 9, our ticketing partner Ticketmaster saw massive activity on their site with people looking for tickets and events. In the UK, demand for ticket refunds has been very low. It’s running at around seven percent and a significant proportion of that would be people who just aren’t able to attend on the postponed date. People really want to keep their tickets and go see the show. All of this gives us a high degree of encouragement.

NHS staff Louisa Jordan pictured in the now closed SSE Hydro. Photograph by Colin Mearns.

Mr Duthie said campus-related activities in 2019 contributed more than £ 457million to Glasgow, which is over £ 1million a day, for shops, restaurants, hotels and a worth over £ 309million for Scotland as a whole.

He added: “We are a national asset and we deliver nationally because people are not just spending their money in Glasgow, they are spending around Glasgow and adding to travel, especially conference delegates.

“All of this supports 6,000 jobs in Scotland and 4,000 net jobs in Scotland. Our last year before the pandemic broke records across all areas of the business. Exhibitions, lectures, and live performances all broke previous records. We had over two million visitors to campus, 47 exhibits, 89 conferences including 11 international and 144 performances at The Hydro and delivered just over 1.1 million visitors to The Hydro and that’s a lot of contribution to the health and well-being agenda. ”

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Since opening in 2013, with rocker Sir Rod Stewart as the opening act, the Hydro has helped put Glasgow on the world stage and is one of five venues in the world welcoming over a million visitors to shows in 2019. – Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall in New York, the London O2, the Auditorio Nacional, in Mexico Mexico City and the Hydro.

Mr Duthie added: “When you compare the size of these cities it shows that Glasgow far exceeds its weight in terms of audience participation and that is because the people of Glasgow and Scotland love their music and overwhelmingly support the place, which we never take for granted. ”

As a large conference city, Mr Duthie said that the opportunity for the conference delegate to have a wider experience is probably more important than the viewer. And they recognize the international delegates, who spend a lot of time here, want to do something else and a lot of their sales push is what Glasgow has to offer.

“Glasgow’s offer in terms of culture, museums and theaters is extremely important as part of the attraction to attract delegates,” Duthie added.

“We bring visitors to see a show at the Hydro from all over the UK, and some from overseas, and they could take advantage of other cultural offerings such as smaller concerts in town, so the The fact that Glasgow has a thriving music scene is also important in providing this additional attraction.

“It is important that there is a supply of venues on several levels throughout the city and that it starts in some of the smaller pubs and clubs, through the O2 Academy, some theaters, then in the Armadillo and potentially in Hydro. We’ve seen artists grow across this whole platform.

A vision for an SEC conference space.  Photo credit: Keppie Design.

A vision for an SEC conference space. Photo credit: Keppie Design.

For the SEC campus, Mr Duthie said that while the restrictions on the number of people attending indoor events are 2000, they will be asking the Glasgow City Council option of increased capacity for all their sites, adding “We are confident that we will be able to deliver well above 2000. It must be otherwise, events are just not sustainable.” Physical distancing, reduced capacity events, just don’t work for promoters. ”

Mr Duthie’s support for the city comes as The Herald launched the A Fair Deal For Glasgow campaign, calling for the city’s sights and treasures to be properly funded and for the Scottish and UK governments to come together to propose a new financing plan for the city’s cultural and leisure services.

He was motivated by figures which showed the crippling impact of the pandemic on the independent council organization, which manages the city’s culture and recreation.

SEC campus leaders hope the £ 200million expansion plans will be backed.  Photo credit: Keppie Design.

SEC campus leaders hope the £ 200million expansion plans will be backed. Photo credit: Keppie Design.

Glasgow Life lost £ 38million in revenue last year. Projected income for 2021/22 is around £ 6.4million.

Mr Duthie said Glasgow’s success is crucial to Scotland’s success.

“It’s easy to say that resources need to be distributed evenly across the country, but there is a critical mass impact of investment levels in Glasgow and Edinburgh across this central belt which help create massive value in across the country, ”Duthie said. “This can attract businesses to the country, whether they are head offices or major investments, that would not necessarily be received elsewhere and that filter through the larger supply chain. It is extremely important for Glasgow and for the Central Belt to be a success. Equally important is ensuring that key assets are supported and funded appropriately.

The Blue Rebels of Extinction Rebellion Scotland perform at Bells Bridge, Glasgow on the River Clyde to highlight sea level rise. COP 26 is scheduled to take place at the SEC campus in November.  Photograph by Colin Mearns.

The Blue Rebels of Extinction Rebellion Scotland perform on Bell’s Bridge, Glasgow on the River Clyde to highlight sea level rise. COP 26 is scheduled to take place at the SEC campus in November. Photograph by Colin Mearns.

While the SEC Campus, which hosts the COP26 World Climate Change Summit later this year, recorded a year-end loss, with reasonable cash reserves, unlike some companies in the industry, they will come out well. to take over Company. And while the arena seats may have been empty, that hasn’t stopped the SEC leadership from looking to the future.

In May, the £ 200million campus expansion project received the green light from Glasgow City Council.

Consent has been granted for Planning Authorization in Principle (PPiP) for the major upgrade and expansion of the existing SEC center.

Conversations are underway with the Scottish and UK governments about their proposed expansion plans which Mr Duthie says will bring huge economic benefits but have argued they need to be funded by grants.

“We are trying to make politicians understand that a level of funding in some of these infrastructure projects gives them a direct return in terms of tax revenue,” he added. “For every £ 1 of gross value added (GVA) that is generated solely through spending by visitors etc., that generates 38 pence of tax revenue. With changes in the tax framework going roughly 50/50 in the UK and Holyrood. This economic activity generates tax returns. Therefore, when considering some of these investment opportunities, they should understand that supporting cultural facilities that attract more international visitors to Scotland actually provides a financial return to the government in terms of tax. It’s not just about handing out money. There is a tangible return.


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