Edinburgh has been rated the top “cultural and creative city” of its size in Europe in a major new study which explored 30 different countries.
The Scottish capital was ranked alongside Paris and Copenhagen, which topped the categories for bigger populations, in the European Commission findings.
Researchers took the “cultural pulse” of 168 cities across Europe, examined how much the creative industries contributed to each economy and explored their efforts to attract talent and encourage participation in the arts.
Key factors taken into account included the range of arts venues, historic attractions and landmarks, the number of overnight stays recorded, and attendance at theatres, concerts and cinemas. The number of jobs in arts, culture, media and communications were considered, along with university rankings and the number of university graduates in subjects like arts and humanities.
The report states: “Edinburgh is internationally famous for its unique topography and historic architecture, with the medieval Old Town and neo-classical New Town featuring on the Unesco World Heritage Site list.
“Edinburgh hosts 12 major festivals each year. Overall, its festivals are among the biggest ticketed events in the world, and the Fringe festival is now the largest annual international arts festival. Edinburgh also has a rich literary tradition dating back to the Enlightenment, which won the city the first title of Unesco City of Literature in 2004.
“On the policy side, Edinburgh actively supports the growth of the cultural and creative sectors. Also, the City of Edinburgh Strategic Plan 2012-17 aims to invest in sporting and cultural infrastructure to further improve quality of life.”
Scottish culture secretary Fiona Hyslop said: ““Edinburgh is recognised internationally as a vibrant hub for culture and creativity.
“Ideas and innovation have always been key to Edinburgh’s identity and international outlook. From its world-famous museums and vibrant creative industries to the year-round festival engagement, the city offers a unique combination of cultural programmes, venues, historic landmarks, world class collections and universities.
“Cities all across the country are actively contributing to Scotland’s reputation as a place where cultural and creative collaborations thrive, as illustrated by the recent successes of Dundee and Paisley, respectively competing to become European Capital of Culture 2023 and UK City of Culture 2021.
“We remain committed to further supporting cultural collaborations and growth across the country, promoting Edinburgh and the all of Scotland as a world-class visitor destination on the international stage.”
Ian Campbell, Edinburgh City Council’s deputy culture convenor, said: “This confirms what we already know – that Edinburgh is a leading UK and European cultural capital.
“As the world’s festival city for 70 years, a Unesco City of Literature, a member of the World Cities Culture Forum and the home of renowned museums, galleries and venues this comes as no surprise.
“What we must do is ensure we maintain the city’s reputation, by supporting Edinburgh’s cultural economy and creating an environment which attracts and retains artists and creative people.”
John Donnelly, chief executive of Marketing Edinburgh, said:“Our dynamic mix of cultural venues, strong infrastructure, student population and tolerance has led to a strong overall performance in the report.”