We need a crisis summit on festival funding before it’s too late - Foysol Choudhury

Edinburgh showcases the best of the Scottish arts and cultural sector for the world to seeEdinburgh showcases the best of the Scottish arts and cultural sector for the world to see
Edinburgh showcases the best of the Scottish arts and cultural sector for the world to see
Next month, the Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) and Edinburgh Fringe Festival will be upon us and festival fever will hit Edinburgh once again. Every August, Scotland becomes host to world renowned performers and Edinburgh showcases the best of the Scottish arts and cultural sector for the world to see.

Our world-renowned cultural sector promotes Brand Scotland around the globe and contributes hugely to our creative economy, as well as having a huge positive impact on other industries such as tourism and hospitality when visitors to the August festivals contribute to the local economy.

However, all this is under threat and urgent action is needed to save our culture sector before it is hit by catastrophe. We’ve recently heard from Francesca Hegyi, chief executive of EIF, that the Scottish culture sector could face a “house of cards” collapse. These concerns were echoed by Nicola Benedetti, director of EIF, who said it is “a very trepidatious time” for arts organisations. These comments lay bare the extent of the crisis in our culture sector and must be heeded by the Scottish Government.

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I have been calling for an urgent festivals crisis summit and have been raising questions on this at the Scottish Parliament, as well as meeting with the relevant stakeholders to try and secure action to save our culture sector before it is too late. It is clear that Scotland’s cultural sector is under enormous pressure, with cultural organisations crying out for support and venues and festivals under threat. Yet, the Scottish Government still won’t heed Scottish Labour’s calls for a crisis summit on festival funding. We need the concrete action of a festivals crisis summit now.

There are also concerns in the arts and culture sector of “standstill” funding, which provides little opportunity for growth. With some reports suggesting that Edinburgh’s festivals bring in similar viewing numbers as the World Cup, which has years to prepare, it is incredibly important that Scotland’s culture sector is also given the same level of economic stability and preparation time to maintain our world-class status as a global hub for culture.

The Scottish Government must urgently roll out the £100 million pledged last year and plan for long-term funding to facilitate sustained growth in the sector. By doing this, as well as convening an urgent festivals summit to see how we can save our incredibly important festivals, we can hopefully sustain and facilitate growth for Scottish arts and culture. We must save Scotland’s world-renowned culture sector, before it is too late.

Foysol Choudhury is a Labour MSP for Lothian Region