Belfast Telegraph

£36,000 for 'free' Morrison concert

Van Morrison's band is being paid £36,000 to perform at a concert in his home city where he will be awarded the Freedom of Belfast, it has been revealed.

Belfast City Council, which is organising the Waterfront Hall show, has signed off an agreement for the singer's company Exile Productions to receive the money.

The concert, before an invited audience of 2,000, is taking place on Friday night.

The fee does not include costs for special receptions before and after the concert which is scheduled to last for one hour 45 minutes.

The event has already sparked controversy after it emerged a fifth of the tickets had been reserved for VIPs.

Two thousand tickets were released to members of the public in Belfast through a lottery system but there was a huge outcry after it emerged 500 were being held back for councillors, senior staff and special guests.

Each of the 51 elected representatives has been issued with four tickets.

Belfast City Council agreed in September to grant its highest honour to the singer, who is only the second person in 10 years to receive the accolade.

He was hailed a hero as a motion recognising his "extraordinary contribution" received unanimous support at a specially convened meeting.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for Belfast City Council said: "Van Morrison has not asked for, and will not be receiving, a fee. Van's band and crew will receive their standard professional fee but details of the exact amount is privileged under the Data Protection Act, on the grounds of commercial confidentiality."

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