Edinburgh misses out on £10m festival funding

The film festival was among the events to miss out. Pic: Phil Wilkinson.
The film festival was among the events to miss out. Pic: Phil Wilkinson.
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LEADING venues in the Capital have lost out on thousands of pounds worth of funding after bids were rejected by Scotland’s national arts agency.

Creative Scotland awarded grants of £100 million last October to the nation’s cultural havens but it has been revealed that the body was only able to provide funding for the next three years to 119 organisations out of the 264 applicants.

The Edinburgh Mela – the nation’s biggest world music festival based at Leith Links – was refused its £1 million bid, along with the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival which had its £700,000 request rejected.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe received £90,000 less than requested while the Edinburgh International Festival received £6.95 million – a £1.75 million reduction on its original request.

The Edinburgh International Book Festival also received £2.68 million less than it had requested. The film festival received £3.2 million of its requested £7.8 million.

The news comes after fears that Edinburgh’s flagship festivals - which are worth £260 million to the city’s economy - could be trumped by international rivals if they suffer a reduction in public funding.

A spokeswoman for Creative Scotland said: “The future of the Edinburgh festivals continue to be a critically important part of Scotland’s cultural landscape and are, justifiably, world renowned.

“We are working closely with all relevant organisations and partners to ensure their future resilience. Although we received a far greater number of high quality applications for regular funding than were able to support, we were able to increase the number of organisations benefiting from three-year funding to 119, and increase the overall budget to £100m.”

Roger Spence, producer of the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival, said: “We were disappointed not to receive regular funding from Creative Scotland. We feel that we have reached a level that justified that status. Our artistic programme is second to none in Scotland, we attracted over 60,000 people last year and we are now one of the top 10 European jazz and blues festivals in terms of scale.”

There are ongoing discussions with Creative Scotland over funding, said Edinburgh Mela’s director Chris Purnell, who said it was important for events of its kind to receive support. The city council funds major events by £4.1 million a year but it faces “difficult decisions” in balancing its budget.

A council spokeswoman said: “As a council and a city there are difficult decisions to be made about where to spend and save money in the next budget. In 2013, the council agreed to provide funding to support a range of cultural organisations including the major Edinburgh festivals for a fixed three-year period. This agreement will last until 2015/16.

“The council’s cultural policy is undergoing a refresh.

“This will, of course, inform future cultural funding decisions, including Edinburgh’s festivals, from 2016/17 onwards.”