Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund to be opened up to Celtic Connections

Glasgow's long-running winter music festival will be able to access an Edinburgh Festival funding pot for the first time.

Artistic director Donald Shaw is at the helm of the 25th Celtic Connections, which launches on Thursday.
Artistic director Donald Shaw is at the helm of the 25th Celtic Connections, which launches on Thursday.

Ahead of the launch of the 25th Celtic Connections on Thursday, organisers of the event have been told it is now be eligible for a share of the Scottish Government's Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund.

It is thought that the move will allow Celtic Connections to stage major shows in both Edinburgh and Glasgow in future.

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The Expo Fund, which saw £2.3 million worth of grants issued last year, has supported some of the highest profile productions which have been staged in the capital over the last decade.

However it has traditionally only been open to the Edinburgh festivals themselves to apply to.

The government's announced has effectively given national status to Celtic Connections for the first time in its 25-year history.

Several productions have appeared at both Celtic Connections and the Edinburgh International Festival in recent years, including Karine Polwart’s Wind Resistance, Martin Green’s Flit, a live recreation of Martyn Bennett’s final album by the Grit Orchestra and King Creosote’s From Scotland With Love.

More than 100,000 people are expected to attend concerts at Celtic Connections, which will be staged across 26 different venues.

Donald Shaw, artistic director of Celtic Connections, said: “Our festival is constantly striving to create unique and exciting collaborations for home-grown talent to deliver a real legacy for our country’s musical landscape, whilst recognising the importance of engaging with outstanding talent from across the world to further enhance the acclaim for Scotland’s unique and evolving music tradition.

“We would like to thank the Scottish Government for giving Celtic Connections this fantastic opportunity through the Expo fund to further expand our musical horizons and creativity, from which we hope to build on the festival’s success and reputation.”

The announcement from the Scottish Government has come months after it agreed to provide an extra £5 million in funding for Edinburgh's festivals over the next five years.

Celtic Connections will be able to along for up to £100,000 for major projects and productions under the deal which has been negotiated with the government over several months.

It also helps stabilise the funding of the music festival, which has previously relied on the backing of Glasgow City Council and Creative Scotland.

Scottish culture secretary Fiona Hylsop said: “The Expo Fund has made a massive contribution in cementing Edinburgh’s reputation as a world-leading festival city.

“Celtic Connections is renowned as a world leading international music festival and to mark its 25th anniversary, to recognise its status and its power to support the development of talent internationally, I’m delighted to announce that it will now be able to access the Expo Fund.

“Celtic Connections will be able to apply for up to 100k from the 2018/19 budget to support performers from Scotland to make the most of their career opportunities.

“Celtic Connections has grown into one of the world’s largest winter music festivals, boosting Scotland’s culture, economy and tourism sectors.

“The Scottish Government believes that culture must be at the very heart of Scotland’s development and engagement with the world. This ethos is crucial as we develop a culture strategy for Scotland.”

Alan Morrison, head of music at Creative Scotland, said: “This is terrific news for Celtic Connections as it celebrates its 25th anniversary.

"It is now firmly established as the winter destination of choice, not only for lovers of folk and traditional music, but also for anyone who wants to embrace culture on a global scale. This support will enable Celtic Connections to provide an even bigger, louder and more vibrant platform to showcase an outstanding range of work produced by Scottish artists.”

David McDonald, deputy leader of Glasgow City Council and chair of Glasgow Life, which runs many of the leading venues at Celtic Connections, said: "Celtic Connections has firmly established a reputation for bringing outstanding talent and works from all over the world to Glasgow and have a significant role in attracting visitors to Scotland.

"It already enjoys an enviable record of delivering programmes of extraordinary quality, innovation and creativity which can only be enhanced through access to Expo funding in the coming years.

"It is recognition of the tireless effort of the festival team and the artists and musicians involved that as we celebrate the 25thanniversary of Celtic Connections that, in years to come, they will be able to attract funding that will add further to its global prestige."