Kevin Buckle: Where to now for the city’s Christmas and New Year festivities?

The cost of the Hogmanay celebrations should largely be covered by the tickets sold. Picture: Jane Barlow
The cost of the Hogmanay celebrations should largely be covered by the tickets sold. Picture: Jane Barlow
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I’m hoping that the recently announced council cuts to funding for Edinburgh’s Christmas and Hogmanay will finally lead to a sensible debate about what funding, if any, is needed, where that funding should be directed and what areas of Edinburgh should be involved in the celebrations.

Some things are obvious. While the current set-up is too cramped with so much fitted into a small area the surrounding areas in the city centre are actually quieter than normal. Underbelly themselves acknowledged that the Grassmarket was busier in February than December and something had to be done.

Pop-punk band The Double Standards

Pop-punk band The Double Standards

Clearly both problems can be rectified by the festivities being more widespread and much more needs to be done to encourage a healthy flow of footfall around the city centre and indeed beyond.

Given the large number of stalls which are not cheap to hire and the many paid attractions it seems sensible that the Christmas market should be able to pay for itself.

Making the figures public will show if that is the case or whether there is some reason for financial support. Ideally Hogmanay’s cost should to a large extent be covered by the tickets sold. If that isn’t practical then a sensible subsidy needs to be calculated.

A lot of big figures are bandied about but none more than the £240 million economic benefit so often mentioned. However I’ve been unable to find out how this figure is calculated or who exactly does benefit and it really is essential that is made clear. Certainly it is not reaching many Edinburgh businesses that trade all year and there is of course a very good argument that it should be those that benefit most that should contribute to the expense.

The need is not so much to cut back on the festivities, more that they need to be spread further around the city centre and financed differently. Clearly Underbelly and Unique Events need to make a fair profit too and consideration also needs to be given to increasing the quality and variety of what is on offer.

A certain number of stalls could possibly be given at a reduced rate to genuine artists who could never afford the rents currently charged but would improve both the quality and selection on offer. I have also previously put forward the idea of a mini-village of stalls promoting the surrounding areas.

Furthermore there is now potentially an extra source of income should a tourist tax be approved. Certainly in all my years of dealing with visitors there has been nothing to indicate there would be opposition to a small tourist tax.

Whether such a tax would even be needed to support Christmas and Hogmanay has still to be seen but if the money is put back into improving visitors’ experience of Edinburgh I really can’t see any sensible objections. Opposition from the hotel trade is to be expected, but the experience elsewhere in the world from what I have seen is all positive.

It is only fair that those who benefit most should bear some of the cost of the festivities especially at a time when council finances are stretched to say the least.

It reminds me on a much smaller scale of the time the Jazz Festival was to be cancelled in the Grassmarket. It will be no surprise to anybody that the pubs there benefit hugely so when it was under threat they were asked to chip in.

An expanded and improved Christmas and Hogmanay and at no expense to the taxpayer. Now there would be a thing!

Check out this lot at the double

I’m so used to well organised bands being rather dull and the interesting bands being, for want of a better word, disorganised that when I returned a follow by Glasgow via Hamilton pop-punk band The Double Standards and then received a direct message thanking me for the follow I immediately started to assume the worst.

However if pop-punk is your thing they do it very well, hardly breaking any boundaries, but that isn’t really what pop-punk is about.

They do a decent cover of Neck Deep’s A Part of Me, and Kimono Girl sounds like a good cover but appears to be original but hey what do I know, it’s probably a Blink-182 b-side.

The drummer describes them as a generic pop punk band so a sense of humour too. You can listen here https://soundcloud.com/user-496632661. You can also find them on Twitter @TDS198 or Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TDS198.

Cubist painting should be on show

One of my most popular tweets this week was not music-related at all but was of a painting by Edinburgh artist William Crozier described as a Cubist-indebted depiction of Edinburgh from 90 years ago viewed from Salisbury Crags.

I intended to recommend that it could be viewed at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art but it turns out that it is in storage.

I would suggest they could lend it to The City Art Centre, which seems to have plenty of space, but I’m guessing that it doesn’t work like that. I do of course regularly walk by The City Art Centre when I leave via the back of Waverley Station and it is such a shame that such a wonderful space in such a good location is not utilised better.

In the meantime you can learn more about the painting on the National Galleries Scotland website at https://art.nationalgalleries.org/art-and-artists/452/edinburgh-salisbury-crags.