Businesses urged to back new Capital culture plans

Businesses are being encouraged to back new proposals of how to fund Edinburgh's cultural scene. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Businesses are being encouraged to back new proposals of how to fund Edinburgh's cultural scene. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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PROPERTY owners, developers, private-sector businesses and wealthy philanthropists will be asked to bankroll the arts in Edinburgh in the face of public spending cuts.

The Capital’s universities will also be urged to help ensure the city retains its crown as a “world-class” cultural capital.

Artists don’t really have the time to spend day after day wrapped in red tape

Richard Lewis

Artists would be encouraged to set up pop-up venues for rehearsals and performances in disused buildings under a new city council blueprint.

Cultural elements may have to be guaranteed in major developments before they win planning permission in future. Edinburgh is set to seek inspiration from other cities around the world in a bid to deliver more public art around the Capital.

The Culture Plan for Edinburgh has emerged in the wake of a three-year consultation which found widespread concerns about a lack of support for grassroots artists and organisations behind year-round events.

The council was accused of imposing too much red tape on artists during the main Edinburgh Festival period, with severe restrictions on live music events and a lack of affordable space.

Better support for the live music scene is promised, following claims that promoters and gig organisers have to grapple with some of the UK’s most restrictive rules over amplified music. The council is also pledging to offer much better support for small arts organisations and lone artists.

Richard Lewis, the city council’s culture leader, said: “We’ve been working on this new plan for the last three years. What came out strongly is that people wanted clarity on how to do things and that we had to make things simpler for people. Artists don’t really have the time to spend day after day wrapped in red tape.”

The business sector and universities are likely to be represented on a new cultural task force, which will aim to ensure provision in Edinburgh remains at the highest level.

A “body of evidence” on the case for investing in culture and the benefits of Edinburgh’s year-round events is to be compiled to maintain funding levels in the face of a predicted “fiscal cliff”.

The new 26-point action plan, expected to be approved next week, should instigate moves to plug gaps in cultural infrastructure and the lack of a medium-sized concert venue.