Comment: Mr Linehan has made a great start

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seventies pop stars Sparks, a late-night cabaret club on the Royal Mile and a street party in front of the Usher Hall.

You’d be forgiven for mistaking parts of this year’s Edinburgh International Festival programme for a line-up from its anarchic cousin the Fringe. And that is no bad thing at all.

The “official” Festival has long had a stuffy image that puts many people of going to see what’s on offer. There has been plenty of talk in the past about it trying to reach out to new audiences and attract new people, but at the end of the day there has been very little noticable difference.

But the arrival of new director Fergus Linehan has turned things up a gear.

Ticket sales up 25 per cent and breaking through the £3 million barrier for only the second time is evidence of how popular his approach has been.

The result will be many people going to events at the International Festival for the first time, the first step in building a bigger audience for future years.

That’s hugely important not just for ensuring that the Festival continues to attract the crowds, but just as vitally for justifying the vast sums of public money which bolsters it each year.

The International Festival recieves around £9 million a year from the Scottish Government and the city council. The Fringe by comparison attracts a fraction of that public funding, but draws much bigger crowds.

The “official” Festival cannot possibly continue to enjoy such generous support without showing that it is putting on events which a broader section of the public wants to see.

The innovative collaboration with Craigmillar High and the increase in events for children this year are particularly welcome examples of widening its appeal.

Mr Linehan has made a 
great start in this way. We look forward to seeing what he will do next year.