Edinburgh Festival: We should not take it for granted that it will always be a world-beater – Scotsman comment

The warning from some of the leading Edinburgh Festival Fringe companies that the event’s future could be at risk unless a financial rescue package is forthcoming from the government may sound like special pleading to some.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe entertainers perform on the Royal Mile in August 2019 (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Edinburgh Festival Fringe entertainers perform on the Royal Mile in August 2019 (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

However, it should give all those with concern for Edinburgh’s and indeed Scotland’s future pause for thought.

After all, Edinburgh Festival as a whole is the biggest of its kind in the world, worth an estimated £1 billion to the economy.

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And Edinburgh’s status as a cultural capital on the global stage is one reason why many people – including skilled professionals like scientists, doctors and engineers – want to live in the city. For many, it adds significantly to their quality of life.

There are some who argue the Fringe has got too big and, indeed, there may well be scope to make sure that future events cause less disruption to ordinary city life. However, if we decide to do this we should take care that we do not tarnish what is one of the brightest jewels in Scotland’s crown.

The Covid crisis is hardly the best time to be making significant changes; instead, the focus needs to be on survival and recovery.

The Fringe companies’ warning should serve as a reminder that we must not take it for granted that Edinburgh Festival will always be the success it has been over the past decades.

If another city managed to steal Edinburgh’s crown, even its biggest critics might come to rue the day.

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