Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

‘Festival of Brexit’ director brands it ‘very successful’ despite low attendance

About Us, a multimedia installation and live performance event created by 59 Productions, The Poetry Society and Stemettes, unveiled at Paisley Abbey, Scotland, to launch UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK (Lesley Martin/PA)
About Us, a multimedia installation and live performance event created by 59 Productions, The Poetry Society and Stemettes, unveiled at Paisley Abbey, Scotland, to launch UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK (Lesley Martin/PA)

The “Festival of Brexit” has been branded “very successful” by its director despite participation figures for the £120 million project falling very short of its 66 million target.

Unboxed, a Government programme of live and digital events funded by taxpayers’ money, was attended by three million people across 107 towns and villages in the UK, according to its organisers.

Director Phil Batty said that overall 18 million people took part in events held this year from March to October, mainly in the form of digital participation such as watching online broadcasts and through virtual reality.

Oil Rig art installation
A decommissioned North Sea offshore platform was transformed into one of the UK’s largest public art installations as part of Unboxed (Ben Birchall/PA) 

However, in August Politics Home reported that the festival – which was intended to evoke the spirit of the Great Exhibition of 1851 and the 1951 Festival of Britain – had received 238,000 visitors with one month to go.

Mr Batty defended the project for providing “cultural experiences” to people across the UK and said the 66 million target was never intended to comprise in-person visitors.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “These cultural experiences have showcased the very best of science, the very best of tech and the very best of the arts through live and through digital.

“66 million was never a visitor target for this programme,” he added.

“It was a creative ambition for the programme, it was an ambition because we wanted to be really inclusive for the whole of the UK, and I think we’ve delivered that.

“I believe it has been very successful because we’ve seen that whether that’s live events in towns and villages there’s been an economic boost, but also we’ve seen major free cultural projects provided to millions of people right across the UK, and that’s hugely important.”

StoryTrails at Bradford
Unboxed involved digital and virtual reality events (Lucy Ray/PA) 

Last month, a cross-party parliamentary committee asked the National Audit Office (NAO) to investigate how the project was managed to “help get to the bottom of how so much taxpayer money could be frittered away for so little return”.

The initiative was originally unveiled in 2018 by Theresa May as Festival UK* 2022 and was due to be a nationwide festival of creativity following the UK’s departure from the European Union.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, who later held the post of Brexit Secretary, dubbed it the Festival of Brexit, and it was rebranded as the Unboxed festival under Boris Johnson’s premiership.