Comment: Why Edinburgh has to support its arts

Many people enjoyed the Fringe and the Free Fringe this year.
Many people enjoyed the Fringe and the Free Fringe this year.
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Culture is a huge part of what makes Edinburgh so special.

Of course culture means different things to different people. For some it will be contemplating a modernist painting for others a sweaty gig in a down-at-heel pub. What unites all ‘the arts’ - from the Fringe to jazz fusion - is the huge richness they add to our lives.

In the case of Edinburgh, that richness is not just limited to the pleasure we get from our own favourites, althought that in itself is invaluable. The arts are also a major driver of our economy. The Festivals are one of the main reasons tourism supports 35,000 local jobs. Our reputation as a cultural hub attracts many of the young professionals we need to run our public services and private enterprises.

The arts cannot flourish without good venues whether that is an empty warehouse, a soundproofed cellar bar or a state-of-the-art concert hall. We have seen how spiralling property prices have effectively squeezed many popular music venues out of the city centre.

The deal struck between the city council and Festival organisers to ensure the needs of the arts is recognised in new developments is far-sighted and a major step forward.