Edinburgh Festivals get record funds to compete with Olympics
PUBLIC funding for Edinburgh’s main festivals has soared above £10 million for the first time, after extra backing was secured to help them compete with the London Olympics this summer.
At least £12m is being ploughed into the capital’s money-spinning events, as they prepare to go virtually head to head with the showpiece sporting extravaganza.
A detailed breakdown reveals how support for events such as the Edinburgh International Festival and Fringe has increased over the past few years.
Six years ago, despite being the world’s biggest arts festival, the Fringe was funded to the tune of £65,000 in public grants, while the Festival’s funding was pegged at about £2.5m.
At least £6.5m in public money will go to the Edinburgh International Festival this summer, including £500,000 to transform part of the Royal Highland Centre to host three major productions and £1.1m on a major sound and light spectacular on Arthur’s Seat.
The Fringe has now seen its public funding increase to some £410,000, in a year that will see its opening two weekends coincide with the Olympics in London.
This year, it has won support for a high-profile campaign to help attract new audiences.
Extra cash has been found for several projects at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, while the book festival’s funding has topped £500,000 and the council has awarded the jazz festival £100,000 to revive its curtain-raising parade in Princes Street.
In addition, the International, Fringe and book festivals are all hosting major cultural summits for the first time, while umbrella body Festivals Edinburgh has won £550,000 to spearhead marketing efforts.
Fringe chief executive Kath Mainland said: “Although most of our income is generated by the Fringe Society, it is the support of our public funders that allows us to undertake that crucial element of our work from which we cannot generate an income.
“Much of this work is focused on promoting the Fringe to artists, entertainers and producers who might potentially bring their work to the festival, and supporting those artists and companies throughout their Fringe experience.”
A spokeswoman for the Edinburgh International Festival said: “The funding secured in addition to our core grants in 2012 is specific to this year and is to support the ambitions long expressed by the Festival to make the most of opportunities in the UK’s Olympic and Diamond Jubilee year, when the focus is on this country.
“Our funders recognise the potential for the Festival to deliver”
Paul Bush, chief operating officer of EventScotland, said: “Scotland is the perfect stage for events and 2012 provides a strong platform to maximise the impact of our key festivals.”