Edinburgh's festivals to receive £8.6m Budget boost

Edinburgh Fringe
Performances take place in Edinburgh's High Street during the festival

Edinburgh's festivals will receive a £8.6m funding boost the chancellor has announced in his Spring Budget.

Some of the funding may go towards creating permanent headquarters for the Fringe festival.

Scotland's festival economy contributes more than £300m a year to the UK.

UK Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said Edinburgh was "world-famous for culture" and it was "right to support it and help it grow" in his spending plans.

He added: "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."

Fears over the future of Edinburgh's festivals have been raised in recent years due to the impact of the Covid pandemic and rising costs associated with performing at the 75-year-old event.

In 2019, before the pandemic, eight major venues at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe sold 1,965,961 tickets.

But projected ticket sales for 2022 fell by almost 25% in its first full year back to 1,486,746.

The comedian Richard Herring has said he will not perform at this year's Edinburgh Fringe due to concerns that spiralling costs are pricing out audiences and performers.

And Fleabag star Phoebe Waller-Bridge has announced a new £100,000 fund to help performers put on shows at the Fringe.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge
Phoebe Waller-Bridge launched a fund to help performers struggling to afford appearing at the Edinburgh Fringe to give them the same chance to showcase their work that she had

Ahead of the chancellor's Budget, Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said the cash injection was "fantastic news for Scotland".

He added: "The UK government has consistently championed the sector, including with £97m of Covid support, and £10m for the Dunard Centre, Edinburgh's first dedicated new space for music and the performing arts in 100 years."

Other festivals which take place in Edinburgh include the Edinburgh International Book Festival and festivals of art and jazz.

Film festival

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 be 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 spokesman said: "Edinburgh's 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."