The 16,000 members of the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland have been asked to dig deep if they want to see its flagship event survive.
The message ‘Save Your Show’ is at the heart of a campaign which aims to bring in £2m of donations over the next few months.
At stake is the ability to fulfil the directors’ clear intention to hold a Royal Highland Show in 2021.
The necessity for the fundraising endeavour is very much linked to the Covid-19 restrictions, which caused the 2020 show to be cancelled, along with every other event at the Royal Highland Centre site over the summer and autumn.
The loss of income is estimated at around £6m and comes on the back of major borrowing to fund overdue infrastructure improvements.
The most obvious of these is the new £5m member’s facility which, although completed, has yet to host an event.
RHASS chief executive Alan Laidlaw told a press briefing on Monday that debts were already at £10m and a substantial injection of cash was needed.
He said: “We have cut costs and renegotiated contracts where possible, but we need a collective effort to make sure we can hold a 2021 show and go on to celebrate our 200th anniversary show and the hosting of the Golden Shears World Shearing Championships in 2022.”
RHASS expect the £2m of donations to come in a variety of ways.
Some members have apparently already converted their annual memberships to life memberships.
Major benefactors may become involved, but Mr Laidlaw was keen to stress ‘grassroots support’ would be vital.
“I spoke to someone the other day who said he would donate the money he would have spent at this year’s show, including his hotel bill,” he said.
“Everything is welcome.”
RHASS has a charitable remit which it must fulfil to retain its status, but the 2021 Royal Highland Show is being given priority.
Various plans had been worked out depending on the level of Covid-19 restrictions still in place next June.
Numbers attending on any of the four days of the show might have to be restricted and ticketing could be necessary.