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Festivals in Edinburgh get multi-million fund boost

Festivals in Edinburgh drew to a close this weekend on a high as the City Council announced the creation of a legacy funding package for the city’s festivals in its 70th anniversary year. The series of events takes place in the city are under the umbrella of Festivals Edinburgh.

The council has agreed to invest an additional £1m every year for five years to protect the legacy and strengthen the future of the city’s 11 major festivals towards a joint fund proposed to Edinburgh’s Festivals and the Scottish Government.

The recommendation was made by council leader Adam McVey and culture and communities convener Donald Wilson at a meeting of the Full Council.

Councillor Adam McVey, said: “If we are to sustain our position as the world’s festival city and protect their legacy, we need to make a joint commitment towards supporting their future success. In this crucial year, we need to recognise how our festivals support tourism, create jobs, and develop the creative and hospitality industries.

“I am, therefore, delighted to bring forward this report following many months of detailed discussions with the Scottish Government and the festivals as part of productive City Region Deal negotiations. Now we can continue conversations with partners to bring this fund to fruition.”

Investment opportunities

Subject to full approval and match funding from Edinburgh’s Festivals and the Scottish Government, the in-principle funding will support a range of areas, including:

  • Enhancing the global reputation of the Festivals and standing of Scotland as an international partner of choice for culture and creativity
  • Creating inclusive opportunities in disadvantaged areas, with schools, clubs and communities sharing world class experiences that increase motivation, confidence, and cohesion for diverse new audiences – helping to raise aspiration and attainment
  • Strengthened community activity working with local artists and cultural activists, connecting communities with national and international partners, and developing the city’s ability to use culture for inclusive social and economic development
  • New export platforms developed for creative product, live and digital, to share the best of Scottish work from local organisations country-wide with wider audiences.
  • New markets opened for Scotland in key countries that are targets for talent attraction, investment promotion and national reputation
  • Increased visitor numbers through strengthening the Festivals as one of Scotland’s most powerful ‘reasons to visit’ and providing a platform for Scotland-wide growth
  • Extended tourism season through initiating new focal points during shoulder seasons in winter and late spring.

Edinburgh FringeThe launch of the programme will provide a further opportunity for the private sector to supplement this investment by supporting the festivals individually and collectively. A new Independent Advisory Group would be set up to steer this work.

Julia Amour, director of Festivals Edinburgh, commented: “It’s great to see the in-principle commitment from the City of Edinburgh to investing in the festivals’ future during our 70th anniversary year, and we are committed to working with both the City and the Scottish Government to capitalise on our enormous value for the benefit of everyone in Edinburgh and Scotland.’

Edinburgh’s 11 major festivals are: The Edinburgh International Festival; Festival Fringe; Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo; Art Festival; Book Festival; Storytelling Festival; Edinburgh’s Hogmanay; Science Festival; Children’s Festival; Film; Jazz & Blues.

Successful events

Data from the Festivals Impact Study 2016 conducted by Festivals Edinburgh revealed that the 11 festivals generate an annual economic impact in Scotland of £316m.

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the world’s largest arts festival, which features more than 50,000 performances of over 3,000 shows in close to 300 venues.

In addition, the Edinburgh People’s Survey 2016 conducted by City of Edinburgh Council, revealed that 62 per cent of participants in the survey reported that they had been to one or more festivals in the last two years.

Councillor Donald Wilson, Culture and Communities convener and Festivals Champion, commented: “This legacy funding package proposes an additional £5m investment from the Council to strengthen and future-proof the global reputation of the Festivals. We now hope the Scottish Government and Edinburgh’s Festivals will join us and pledge their own support.

“The funding package would address many of the issues raised by the Thundering Hooves studies, such as building further the accessibility and inclusivity of the festivals, and a real need to develop digital platforms and draw new markets.”

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop added: “The Scottish Government has long made clear our commitment to supporting the festivals – awarding £19 million since 2008 through the Expo Fund. I welcome the council’s in principle agreement to invest an additional £5 million over the next five years and we are finalising our discussions on the Scottish Government’s support for the festivals.”