‘They need public support more than ever’

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Summer just wouldn’t be the same without them.

Gala days and community events taking place in communities across Edinburgh and the Lothians, delighting crowds as they have done for decades, whatever the weather.

But for how much longer can events which increasingly rely less on the support of the public purse and more on the goodwill and dedication of a small number of volunteers survive?

Today’s warning from the organisers of the Parents Like Us festival paints a gloomy picture.

The event is a reasonably new addition to the Capital’s summer offering but has been hugely successful in attracting crowds of up to 30,000 to Leith Links for the past eight years.

Not successful enough, however, and the organisers say if they do not break even this year, then 2012 will be its swansong.

Next week, the spot on the Links will be taken over by the traditional Leith Festival Gala Day, another successful event which had been in very real danger of disappearing.

Both cases highlight difficulties which are being faced in communities across Scotland this summer.

They can no longer expect the same level of funding from the dwindling coffers of councils or charities, while private sponsorship has increasingly dried up.

Instead, events like these need the support of the public more now than ever, whether that is simply turning up and spending a few pounds or giving time to help out in the organisation or fundraising.

The message today from the PLU organisers is a simple one and can be applied to all small events struggling to survive at the moment – “use it or lose it”.

Summer just would not be the same without these events so go along and show your support.

Fringe benefits

IF community events are struggling to survive, the showpiece Edinburgh Festival thankfully seems to be going from strength to strength.

The Fringe programme revealed today has a record number of shows despite the financial climate and the overlap with the London Olympics. This August, there will be an eye- watering 42,096 performances of 2697 productions, including, as ever, a host of big-name stars. There are also hundreds of free shows, meaning you don’t have to break the bank to enjoy the experience.

For an event so critical to Edinburgh’s economy and the city in general today’s packed programme is welcome news indeed. Love it or hate it, we’re glad to say the Fringe is here to stay.