Edinburgh's festivals 'to get £8.6m funding boost from UK Government'

The funding could help create a new, permanent HQ for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Edinburgh’s festivals ‘to get £8.6m funding boost from chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s spring budget’ iStock

A funding boost of up to £8.6m for Edinburgh’s festivals is expected to be announced on Wednesday during the UK Government’s spring Budget.

Some of the funding could be used to create a new, permanent headquarters for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in a bid to create year-round opportunities for artists in the Scottish capital.

Thousands of people flock each year to attend Scotland’s festivals, which brings in around £300m to the economy.

During Wednesday’s Budget, chancellor Jeremy Hunt is expected to outline his plans to protect the Scottish festival economy and create new jobs in the sector.

Jeremy Hunt is expected to make the funding announcement during Wednesday's budget.No10 Downing St

He said: “From Edinburgh’s Fringe to the International Festival, the city is world-famous for culture and it’s right to support it and help it grow.

“Millions of people flock to Edinburgh from all over the globe for its festivals, creating opportunities for incredible comedians, musicians, artists and more, as well as thousands of jobs each year – all contributing immensely to the UK’s shared economy.”

It’s hoped the investment will improve the sector’s resilience and maximise opportunities for artists across the UK.

Scottish secretary Alister Jack said: “This is fantastic news for Scotland. Our vibrant arts sector – with the Edinburgh Festivals at its heart – is rightly renowned internationally and makes a huge contribution to our economy and cultural landscape.

“The UK Government has consistently championed the sector, including with £97 million of Covid support, and £10m for the Dunard Centre, Edinburgh’s first dedicated new space for music and the performing arts in 100 years.

“Edinburgh is a global centre for the arts and this funding will help the festivals continue to thrive and grow for many years to come.”

The announcement comes months after the Edinburgh Filmhouse closed, with owners citing the impact of Covid and rising costs.STV News

UK culture secretary Lucy Frazer added: “Countless stars get their big break at Edinburgh Festivals and this funding will help us safeguard a future where upcoming British talent can capitalise on the opportunities on offer.

“Edinburgh is at the heart of our international position as a world leader in the creative sectors and I’m delighted that we can help the festivals grow and thrive.”

The announcement follows warnings about the future viability of some of the capital’s festivals.

Earlier this month it was announced that the Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) is to return this summer in a scaled-down version, months after the event ceased trading amid rising costs.

The 76th event will take place from August 18 to 23 in a special one-year iteration as part of the Edinburgh International Festival, with Screen Scotland remaining in place as the EIFF’s primary public funder.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Edinburgh festivals continue to be one of Scotland’s world-leading cultural brands and the Scottish Government will continue to do all we can to support the festival and wider culture sector.

“Scottish ministers have been urging the UK Government to recognise the valuable role Scotland’s culture sector plays to the Scottish and UK economy and so any additional funding from the Spring Budget would be welcome.

“The Scottish Government is awaiting further details from the UK Government.

“Given culture is devolved, Ministers would be disappointed if the UK Government did not engage in advance to ensure all public funding – Scottish and UK – was aligned to deliver maximum support for the sector which is facing considerable financial challenges as a result of UK inflation, Brexit and the ongoing impacts from the Covid pandemic.”

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