Edinburgh Fringe and King’s and Festival theatres hit by funding cuts

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The Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the city’s King’s and Festival theatres and the body that promotes its Unesco City of Literature status have had their funding stripped by Creative Scotland.

They have all lost long-term support from the arts quango despite its funding from the Scottish Government going up by more than £16 million.

Creative Scotland has dropped 20 organisations from its three-year funding programme, but added 19 following a shake-up of how its £99m budget is spent. It is being maintained at the same level due to a decline in national lottery funding.

The Fringe has received £210,000 over the past three years, while the Festival City Theatres Trust, which runs the two historic venues on behalf of the council, had been funded to the tune of £315,000.

The wider theatre sector has been hit by a number of cuts, including to the Ayr Gaiety and the children’s companies Catherine Wheels and Visible Fictions.

The Royal Lyceum Theatre has had a controversial funding cut imposed three years ago reinstated, but its nearby neighbour, the Traverse, has been kept on standstill funding despite also being targeted in the previous funding round.

Birds of Paradise, Rapture, Fire Exit and Lung Ha’s are among the other theatre companies cut adrift, along with dance company Plan B, the Hebrides Ensemble and the Dovecot centre in Edinburgh.

Glasgow-based arts group NVA, which is leading efforts to turn the former St Peter’s Seminary in Argyll into an arts complex, has lost £450,000 worth of funding.

The pop, rock and indie music scenes have been boosted after the Scottish Music Industry Association was awarded £500,000. Other new recipients include the Creative Edinburgh network, while a new £2m touring fund for theatre companies will run from 2019.

Fringe chief executive Shona McCarthy said: “On behalf of the thousands of artists, producers, venues and companies that make up the Fringe family, we’re extremely disappointed not to be included in the regular funding programme.

“The Fringe showcases the very best of Scottish and international culture, making the arts as accessible as possible to an audience of millions.

“It generates over £170m a year for the economy, but receives less than five per cent of its funding from the public sector. It is no exaggeration to say it is one of Scotland’s greatest cultural exports – helping it punch well above its weight in terms of cultural influence, artistic excellence and creativity.”

Duncan Hendry, chief executive of the Festival City Theatres Trust, said: “Whilst we’re extremely disappointed, we will continue to work with Creative Scotland and our many other partners to bring the best national and international work to our stages.”

Creative Scotland’s chief executive Janet Archer said: “Regular funding is a highly competitive application process where demand has, once again, far outstripped available funding.”