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Royal Albert Hall in hot water over ‘damaging’ actions of seat owners

1 October 2017

THE CHARITY Commission has reported London’s 5,272-capacity Royal Albert Hall (RAH) to the Attorney General over concerns about the venue’s debenture holders selling tickets at inflated prices.

The charity regulator wants the Attorney General to refer a number of concerns about how the venue operates to the Charity Tribunal, with the main issue being how RAH trustees can privately own seats and profit from them, while controlling the hall’s board.

A registered charity, RAH has 1,276 seats owned by debenture holders, with 19 of its 25 trustees also seat holders. Trustees determine which tickets can be sold on the open market, including resale sites, and those that go through the RAH box office at face-value.

“The perception that charity trustees are in a position to benefit financially from their role is very damaging,” a Charity Commission spokeswoman tells LIVE UK.

“We have been engaged with the charity for a number of years to address concerns about the charity’s governance, yet the trustees have been unwilling to deal with a number of the central issues to our satisfaction in a timely manner.”

Many debenture holders have had their seats passed down through generations, from those who helped fund the hall’s construction in 1860. As part of its constitution the venue has a law banning the resale of tickets in and around the venue, although has no ruling against internet sales. Other holders include companies who purchased seats or private boxes, which can sell for up to £500,000, from previous owners.

Earlier this year RAH was criticised for allegedly advising debenture holders how to get around resale restrictions on tickets to see David Gilmour (see LIVE UK issue 204).

A spokesman for the RAH says the disagreement with the Charity Commission is largely over a “technical issue” and it was surprised the regulator issued a statement without its knowledge.

“However, in spite of that, we hope to continue our dialogue with them and now with the Attorney General directly,” says an RAH spokesman.

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