Edinburgh Mela cancelled in wake of funding crisis

One of Edinburgh's flagship festivals has been cancelled just weeks before the event was due to be staged in the wake of a bitter behind-the-scenes row and the loss of its public funding.

Picture: TSPL

Organisers of the Edinburgh Mela, Scotland’s biggest multi-cultural festival, confirmed today that it was unable to go ahead with a planned two-day event at the end of next month.

They have blamed “funding reasons beyond the control of the Mela board” for the eleventh-hour decision to pull the plug on the event.

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The cancellation of the Mela - which was due to celebrate its 21st anniversary and traditionally attracts more than 25,000 people to Leith Links - has cast a shadow over the 70th Edinburgh Festival season.

The board of the event, which was plunged into crisis by the resignation of director Chris Purnell in March, had been planning on staging a scaled-down event, against the advice of Edinburgh City Council, one of three funders to withdraw support in recent months.

Its statement confirming the cancellation said plans were already being drawn up for some form of event in the autumn, ahead of the Mela returning next summer.

Mr Purnell’s resignation letter warned the event was being “destroyed from within” and taken to the “brink of catastrophe” by its board, some of whom have served for up to 20 years.

It later emerged that the Mela was being investigated by Police Scotland and the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator over alleged “financial irregularities.”