Brexit risk to Edinburgh Festivals

Street performers during the city's festivals.
Street performers during the city's festivals.
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Edinburgh Festival chiefs have warned that Brexit could thwart the number of international shows visiting the 
capital amid fears over spiralling costs.

The festivals – which attract millions of visitors every year – could also suffer as sponsorship plummets and cash from lucrative trusts and foundations dries up in the aftermath of the decision to leave the EU.

It comes as business leaders in the capital warned that the Brexit vote is already turning skilled workers away from Scotland, with many firms also freezing investment plans amid growing uncertainty.

The Edinburgh Festivals are widely seen as Scotland’s leading cultural assets and generate about £300 million a year for the national economy, attracting millions of tourists.

But bosses have warned of several “immediate effects” of Brexit as the value of sterling plummets and stockmarket confidence falls.

This has meant “increased costs to artists and producers” of bringing international work to Edinburgh, a submission to MSPs on Holyrood’s European committee reveals.

It also warns of “a risk of lower sponsorship commitment than before given the drop in value of sterling assets and negative effects of business uncertainty on share values.” Trusts and foundations have also been “warning of lower funding available to distribute to beneficiaries for the same reasons”.

The submission adds: “Some of Edinburgh’s Festivals have also reported increased caution among international partners in committing to medium and long term collaborations because of the uncertainty about the status of partners from Scotland and the UK, with examples of discussions not being entered into or failing to progress.”

The committee is conducting an inquiry into the impact on Scotland of leaving the EU.

The impact of the uncertainty is already having a “significant” impact on Scotland’s economy in relation to workforce, funding streams and currency values, according to the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce in a submission to Holyrood’s European and External relations committee. The MSPs are conducting an inquiry into the impact of Brexit on Scotland.

A significant proportion of the hospitality industry employ up to 50 per cent of their full-time staff from mainland Europe.

“Any move to a points-based immigration system would have a major impact on the ability of this sector to recruit,” it states.

Many EU nationals have already quit the UK to return to their home countries as the falling value of the pound means “the UK is not as attractive an option as it once was”, with manufacturing firms hit badly.

“They report that the influx of Polish nationals which they have seen now seems to have stemmed,” it states.

“Unanswered questions about the future appear to be putting skilled people off from coming to the UK.”