Edinburgh Festival Fringe receives £1.5m public funding boost to help it bounce back from pandemic

Organisers of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe have been handed a £1.5 million public funding boost to help the event bounce back from the impact of the pandemic.

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe will mark its 75th anniversary in 2022. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell

The event has been awarded one of the biggest grants from more than £54 million handed out by arts agency Creative Scotland since the start of this year.

The International Festival and the film festival were also given extra financial help of £250,000 and £270,000 respectively to help them return this year, the 75th anniversary of the festivals.

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The Fringe Society, which has secured new “resilience” funding to the tune of £1,580,000, has been lobbying for a significant increase in financial support for the event before and after the pandemic forced the cancellation of the festival in 2020.

Chief executive Shona McCarthy has previously made the case for sustained government funding of £1.5 million for the event.

The society, which oversees the running of the event, including its box office, artists and performers’ centre and the publication of its programme, was hit with a 100 per cent cut in its direct funding from Creative Scotland in 2018.

The Scottish Government has, however, put more than half a million pounds to support Scottish artists and companies to put on work at the Fringe’s Made in Scotland showcase in recent years.

More than 2000 shows have already been registered for this year’s Fringe, which will mark the 75th anniversary of the event.

Ms McCarthy said: “We’re pleased that the Fringe has been awarded £1.58m in funding, which will be used to address recovery and resilience across the festival in our 75th anniversary year.

"£1.275m of this fund will be distributed to eligible Fringe producers, to help build resilience and foster innovation as they emerge from the pandemic.

"Applications for the funding will be considered across four key pillars: fair work, creative programming, risk management and sustainability. The remaining £305,000 will support the ongoing resilience of the Fringe Society and includes £55k for street events."

Francesca Hegyi, the International Festival’s executive director, said: “This funding enabled the festival to programme some free events this year as well as manage increased production costs, primarily for freight, materials and energy, which have risen from 2021.”

The government confirmed a £65 million recovery programme for the country’s festivals, events and arts venues in January after the new Omicron variant forced the cancellation or postponement of hundreds of shows and events over the festive season.

Creative Scotland said 6200 different awards worth £54 million had been shared between arts organisations, events, venues and freelancers over the last few months, with 93 per cent of all applications supported.

Capital Theatres, the operator of Edinburgh’s Capital and Kings theatres, was awarded just over £1 million, and the Ambassador Theatre Group, which runs the Edinburgh Playhouse and the King’s and Theatre Royal in Glasgow, received £1.45 million.

Other grants included £268,000 for concert promoters DF Concerts, £111,914 for Underbelly, organisers of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations, and £87,000 for Unique Events, organisers of Edinburgh’s Burns and Beyond Festival.

Culture and Sport Glasgow, which runs Glasgow’s Celtic Connections musical festival, which was badly affected by restrictions during its first week, received £600,000.

Bands and musicians supported include Mogwai, Skerryvore, Niteworks, Elephant Sessions, Tide Lines, Fatherson, Iona Fyfe, Jill Jackson, Arab Strap, Skipinnish and Breabach.

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