Industry News

Albert Hall leaders dubbed a ‘national disgrace’ over tickets scandal

A former president of the Royal Albert Hall has described the venue’s leaders as a “national disgrace” over the tickets scandal that has brought its charitable status into question.

Richard Lyttelton, who served as president between 2010 and 2011, was speaking as The Guardian newspaper reported that a document circulated among members gave advice on how to “significantly improve income from unwanted tickets”.

It has recently emerged that debenture holders, who own a fifth of the London hall’s 5,000 seats, are able to sell on their free tickets rather than return them to the box office for sale at face value. William Shawcross, the Charity Commission’s chairman, said it “raises questions as to whether [the venue] is in fact operating for the public benefit as required by law”.

Lyttelton told The Guardian that Albert Hall members have a responsibility not to treat seats as money-spinners. He also demanded that trustees of the hall – which hosts the Proms music festival and other major events – declare any revenue that they make from selling tickets.

“Members of the hall’s council own 145 seats worth conservatively £14.5m,” Lyttelton said. “This interest is largely undeclared and as trustees of the charity, their position of privilege and the advantages afforded by the hall’s charitable status puts them in a position to profit personally.

“For this to have been unregulated, despite being in the public domain for so long, is a national disgrace.”

The Guardian reported that the document recommends that unwanted tickets can be sold though secondary ticketing websites such as Viagogo and StubHub. The document states that concert promoters are greedy and that the return scheme results in a “direct, unfair and unnecessary cost to members by paying significantly less than can be achieved in the open market”.

Tickets to the Last Night of the Proms this year are being offered for more than £1,500 ($1,900/€1,700) despite not having gone on sale.