West Kowloon Cultural District

Clockenflap festival charging up to HK$590 this year

City's biggest alternative-music event will cost up to HK$590, with government taking a cut; we lost a lot of money last year, organiser says

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 September, 2015, 6:01pm

Organisers of a two-day music festival next month have won approval from West Kowloon Cultural District officials to charge for the formerly free event after it sweetened the deal by giving the government a cut of the ticket sales, it emerged yesterday.

The Clockenflap festival - which hopes to draw 25,000 music fans over the December 1 and 2 weekend - is the city's biggest alternative music and arts festival. Last year entry - at the same venue - was free, but this year one-day passes cost HK$390 and weekend passes are HK$590. Students pay HK$290 and children under 12 are free.

The ticket price was set by the organisers without government input, despite the event happening on government land and the granting of a substantial discount on the venue's rent. It is understood the rent the organisers paid was just under HK$1 million.

"We have a commercial rate, but this is an arts and culture event, so we gave them a good discount on the rent," said Louis Yu, West Kowloon Cultural District Authority executive director of performing arts.

He could not remember how big the discount was or the discounted rate, but emphasised that the government had not provided any cash.

The government will receive less than 20 per cent of the price of each ticket.

"This kind of event is not cheap, so it's justified for them to charge, but in terms of how much, it is up to them," Yu said.

"We did not look into their detailed budget, this is not our role and because it's an independent event, they should have the freedom to set the ticket prices. We know some people can afford it, some people cannot afford it."

Last year, about 18,000 people went to Clockenflap.

"We know it is possible they will have a lot of income, so we will look at the discount and we had also charged them partly on their ticket sales," Yu said.

Organiser Mike Hill said about half the tickets had been sold and with three weeks left until the event he was confident the price was appropriate.

"In terms of value for money, it's off the scale," he said at yesterday's press conference at the K11 shopping mall in Tsim Sha Tsui, one of the event sponsors.

Hill said the trio lost several million from last year's event and that this year, their budget was well above HK$10 million, with only 5 per cent from sponsors such as the British Council.

"We spoke to a lot of people and we worked out what people would expect to pay in a town like this," Hill said.

"It's not about affording it. A lot of people came last year because it was free and billed as the cool event of the year. This year, some of them won't come, but we educated a whole load of other people and they are going to pay."

Jay Forster added: "And the line-up is so much stronger than last year."

Two weeks later, the venue will host Freespace, a free music festival focusing on local bands.