Nicola Benedetti: 'Edinburgh Festival should be open for everyone'

The musician was appointed the first female and first Scottish director of the world's largest arts festival earlier this year.

Nicola Benedetti says Edinburgh International Festival should ‘be for all’ after becoming director Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Musician Nicola Benedetti has said she wants the arts to be accessible to everyone in her first statement as new director of the Edinburgh International Festival.

The famous violinist is the first female director to be appointed for the festival since it was founded in 1947.

In a statement on Monday, she outlined her vision for the future of the festival, which presents a programme of all performing arts across the city every August.

The 34-year-old described the new role as the “honour and responsibility of a lifetime” and said she is dedicated to bringing art to the “broadest possible audience”.

She said: “Even as a child, I never believed the greatest things were for keeping to ourselves.

“Because I didn’t grow up attending concerts, theatre, ballet or opera, it is not difficult for me to understand why people don’t feel comfortable or ‘in the know’ enough for these environments.”

She added: “The Arts speak a symbolic language that brings us to a more profound understanding of these collective truths. Our festival has the honour and privilege of using this language to change people’s lives.

“I have been speaking to a lot of people with strong ties to the Festival’s early days and can tell you unequivocally that their ambitions were inextricable from their dreams for humanity. With such close proximity to the Second World War, upholding values of reconciliation was as serious as one’s own life. With the increasing tensions we see all over the world, we too have a pressing moral responsibility to our audiences, to the wider public and to the traditions of this institution.”

Benedetti, who has been touring internationally since winning the BBC Young Musician of the Year award at 16, is also the first Scottish person the direct the festival.

She said the event will stay true to its international reputation while also celebrating Scottish identity.

She said: “Edinburgh International Festival has international as its middle name. The outward-looking curiosity and discovery necessary to embody internationalism and universality will require a consistent and renewed commitment. We have and will continue to live up to our name. But we are also Scottish. We are deeply proud of the city and country we represent, and will seek and celebrate the stories that lie within our nation’s identity.”

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