Edinburgh Festivals Future Uncertain, Says Director

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The Director of Festivals Edinburgh, the organisation that overseas Edinburgh’s 11 major cultural events, has said that extra funding is needed to tackle growing criticism about the impact of large-scale events in the city. 

Julia Amour also commented “it is not a foregone conclusion that Edinburgh will be able to hang on to what we most value about our festivals.”

The Edinburgh festivals have grown hugely in the past few years, with a record of 4.4 million attending in 2019 and an economic generation of over £300 million. However, the average Edinburgh citizen attends only three festival events every year, and one in three of its citizens are not involved at all. 

The 2020 festivals adopted an online-only format after large-scale events were made impossible by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking at a virtual conference held by the Cockburn Association, Amour suggested that the festivals should move from having their peak season in August to having a year-round calendar of events in Edinburgh. She said that the festivals are currently facing an “economic conundrum” and new funding is needed in order to spread out Edinburgh’s cultural events as well as increase access for Edinburgh’s citizens.

Amour stated that more than just public funding is needed, and there is a need to “really galvanise the people of this city, if they care about culture, to get behind ideas that could help the festivals.”

Words by Ellen Ritchie.


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Image: © Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society

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