Festivals face ‘spiral of decline’ over funding

The world-famous Fringe 'needs extra funding'. Picture: Jane Barlow
The world-famous Fringe 'needs extra funding'. Picture: Jane Barlow
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EDINBURGH’S world-famous Festivals could enter a “spiral of decline” without proper funding, city leaders have warned.

They said the £4.15 million spent on the Capital’s flagship events was a crucial investment which would destabilise the city’s economy if it was removed or drastically reduced.

And they claimed extra support was needed for events like the Edinburgh International Festival, the Fringe, and the city’s celebrations of film, books, jazz and visual art if they are to remain in “pole position” ahead of international rivals.

The warning came after it emerged yesterday that more than £10 million worth of spending proposals from Edinburgh’s festivals for the next three years had been rejected by national arts agency Creative Scotland.

Steve Cardownie, the council’s festivals and events champion, said the festivals – which generate an estimated £261m for the national economy each year – had suffered from “under-investment” for years.

He even compared the city’s current position to Sir Alex Ferguson’s long-running reign as manager of Manchester United, saying Edinburgh would be making a mistake if it failed to invest properly in its major events while they were at the top.

Cllr Cardownie said: “We’ve always been of the view that there’s no way we can sit back and think that because we have a successful formula at the moment that that’ll always be the case.

“You’ve got to keep your eyes on the competition as they recognise just what festivals and events can do for the cities that host them.

“There’s no doubt that as budgets get tighter, our festivals and events budget will come under increased scrutiny. However we’re of the view that they’re essential for the 
local economy and the life of the city. If they’re unable to maintain excellence, and if their programmes are not as eclectic and vibrant as they once were, they could end up on a slippery slope and get caught in a spiral of decline.”

newsen@edinburghnews.com