Edinburgh's festivals set to have council funding protected for next 12 months

Edinburgh's flagship cultural events and festivals are to have their funding from the city council kept intact for the next 12 months.

The Usher Hall is one of the main venues used for the Edinburgh International Festival each summer. Picture: Clark James

A £4.7 million package, which also maintains support for many of the city’s arts venues, is expected to be agreed next week despite huge uncertainty over what live events will be able to take place in the city this year.

Council chiefs say they want to make sure the city's cultural sector is in “the best possible place” to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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And they have stressed the important part they expect arts and culture to play “in the whole city recovering fro the effects of the pandemic.”

An official report for councillors states that the funding would help ensure that everyone in the city had access to “world-class cultural provision,” develop and support infrastructure which sustains the city’s culture and creative sectors, and encourage the highest standards of creativity and excellence in all aspects of cultural activity.

Festivals Edinburgh which oversees the running of the city’s major events, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, as well as the city’s film, book, science, jazz and blues, visual arts and children’s festivals will all have their funding protect under the proposals.

Only the Edinburgh International Festival will have its funding reduced, from £2m to £1.9m, under a previously agreed cut aimed at reallocating arts funding for other initiatives and events.

Venues which will have their funding maintained include Capital Theatres, which runs the Festival and King’s theatres, the Royal Lyceum and Traverse theatres, the Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh Printmakers, Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop, Stills Gallery and Dance Base.

Other organisations which will have their support sustained include the Scottish Book Trust, the Edinburgh Unesco City of Literature Trust, the Scots Fiddle Festival and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

The £4.7m package includes new funding to help roll out a cultural strategy for Granton’s waterfront and support for the Whale Arts Agency in Wester Hailes.

Donald Wilson, the council’s culture convener said: “It would be an understatement to say 2020 was extremely tough for our culture sector but we’ve been hugely impressed by the resourcefulness and resilience they’ve demonstrated throughout the crisis.

"We are committed to doing what we can to support the sector and its recovery as safely and as quickly as possible.

"Our grants programme has always supported the city’s year-round cultural offering and by approving the funding we’ll be playing our part in boosting the sector following such a hard year.

"We’re in regular contact with all of our event and cultural partners in the city and look forward to their return to activity when that comes.”

Depute convenor Amy McNeese-Mechan added: “We know this is an extremely difficult time for so many in the culture sector and I’m very glad we’ll be able to maintain our commitment through the culture sector funding programme, subject to the report being agreed next week.

"We’ll continue to do what we can to support the sector to make sure they’re in the best possible place to recover.

"This support will in turn play its part in the whole city recovering from the effects of the pandemic as we look forward to enjoying the positivity and dynamism that Edinburgh’s cultural offer will bring.”

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