July 1 march

Free tickets to 'sell-out' concert spark questions

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 July, 2013, 5:28am

Questions about the Dome Festival's true purpose are continuing to arise, following revelations that the "sell-out" event was in fact attended by many teenagers who received free tickets.

In a paid advertisement in newspapers yesterday, festival organiser the Performing Industry Association said "all 18,000 tickets were sold out in a few hours". But the South China Morning Post found that at least 100 tickets were given out free through Wharf Holdings, one of the big property developers sponsoring the concert held at the old Kai Tak airport runway at the same time as the July 1 march.

The Post reported yesterday that some teenagers said Wharf had sent their schools free tickets.

A Wharf spokesman said 100 tickets were given to 11 secondary schools under the firm's corporate social responsibility scheme.

The Dome Festival, which was sponsored by big pro-government property developers, came under fire for its timing that appeared more than coincidental as the annual July 1 pro-democracy protest went ahead under a No3 typhoon signal.

Critics accused the organiser of the concert - headlined by K-pop acts Shinee, f(x), EXO, Super Junior-M's Henry and BoA, and local pop-rock outfits RubberBand and Mr. - of using it to keep youngsters from the protest.

Some tickets had a face value of HK$99 for a show featuring Korean stars used to playing HK$1,000-ticket gigs.

The organiser claimed it had no such agenda, rather the event aimed to highlight the industry's demand for a 30,000-capacity venue. It remained silent when asked about facilities already in the pipeline, including the 50,000-seat Kai Tak Stadium and the Mega Performance Venue at West Kowloon arts hub.

Internet users expressed their distrust of the concert organiser on Facebook, questioning the veracity of the Performing Industry Association's statement.