Fringe chief Shona McCarthy vows to build bridges after Brexit

Shona McCarthy will look to build new international links in the wake of Brexit. Picture: Jane Barlow
Shona McCarthy will look to build new international links in the wake of Brexit. Picture: Jane Barlow
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The Edinburgh Festivals are to embark on a “vociferous” campaign to bolster their international links in their 70th anniversary year in the wake of the UK’s Brexit vote.

The global drive will underline the origins of the event to “reunify” Europe through culture in 1947 in the aftermath of the Second World War.

Fringe chief executive Shona McCarthy has revealed plans are being drawn up to strike up new relationships and “build bridges” to limit the impact of the EU referendum result.

Special invitations to stage work in Edinburgh are expected to go out around the world, with the Fringe stressing its role as the “mothership” of around 200 festivals .

Ms McCarthy, who took up her post in March, admitted the Brexit vote had created a new anxiety for festivals already grappling with the prospect of funding cuts.

She raised concerns about a possible drop in corporate funding in future years due to uncertainly over the impact of Brexit and a squeeze in support from private trusts and foundations.

However, Ms McCarthy said there was a possibility of new funding routes opening up to help establish new cultural exchanges across Europe.

Ms McCarthy said the impact of Brexit had already been discussed by the figureheads of the main Edinburgh festivals.

She said: “The very nature of how festival directors and their teams approach the world is to want to build relationships and work through the arts to build bridges where maybe politics or other mechanisms are putting up borders.

“The initiation of the Edinburgh Festival was about the reunification of post-war Europe through culture. It’s an idea and a theme that we’ll be definitely revisiting. We’ll be even more vociferous in striving to make sure that these festivals are positioned as the truly international events and exchange places that they are.

“It’s hard to say what impact Brexit will have on the festivals. We all have mixed business models. But one worry would be what it’s going to look like for funding from private sector partnerships and trusts and foundations. We just don’t know what the shakedown is going to be.”