Brexit ‘creates wave of uncertainty for Edinburgh Festival’

Edinburgh International Festival director Fergus Linehan launches the 2018 programme in the capital's McEwan Hall. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Edinburgh International Festival director Fergus Linehan launches the 2018 programme in the capital's McEwan Hall. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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The director of the Edinburgh International Festival has admitted that the prospect of Brexit has created a “wave of uncertainty” over the future of the event.

Fergus Linehan, who has been in charge of the event since August 2015, expressed fears that efforts to book shows could be hampered for the next decade due to a lack of certainty over the impact of Britain’s exit from the European Union.

The Irishman, who recently signed a new contract extending his tenure with the event until 2022, said the Festgival had been forced to create “wriggle room” over future programmes to ensure it could drop major projects if it was unable to find enough funding in future.

Mr Linehan said: “The biggest headache is advance planning. The future of the festival is dependent on the Scottish Government having the money in future.

“The other issue is that if there is real anxiety when Brexit happens our currency could collapse. That would really reduce our capacity to pay fees. Nobody wants to be paid in Sterling in case there is enormous volatility around it.

“As a city, Edinburgh is really dependent on the unviersity, finance, as well as culture and heritage, While I think the tourism sector will probably hold up I would really worry about those other industries.

“The whole country is in the same boat and awaiting news at the moment. If we end up in this interim phase for a decade, which is not impossible, it will make future planning really difficult.

“If the situation suddenly hardened and it became really aggressive over the rights of staff to live here and our ability to hire staff it would be a nightmare, but we just don’t know.”