Decision on arts events

Verdict due on whether Festival takes place

Just the ticket: Festival makes millions for city (pic: Terry Murden)

Talks are under way on whether the Edinburgh Festival should take place in August, with a decision likely next week.

A number of large-scale events that were to be held in Scotland, such as Euro 2020 and the Film Festival in June, have been delayed because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Calling off the the biggest arts festival in the world would leave a huge hole in the city’s economy, but organisers know they may have no choice.

The Centre for Economics and Business Research last year estimated that the economic impact of the Edinburgh Festival in 2015 suggested that it contributed £312 million to Scottish GDP. This would have been about 0.15% of Scottish GDP at that time. The estimated contribution to Edinburgh’s GDP was about 1%.

Since 2015, visitor numbers have grown substantially. The number of tickets issued for Fringe shows broke the three million barrier for the first time last year, with 3,012,490 sold over the three weeks.

Crowds pack Edinburgh every summer (pic: Terry Murden)

This was a 7.6% increase on 2018, the seventh successive annual increase. 

Ticket sales for the Edinburgh International Festival were up slightly on 2018, rising by 1% to 420,000. However, this was fewer than for the festival’s 70th anniversary in 2017, which attracted 450,000 people.

Fringe Society chief executive Shona McCarthy said: “I’m grateful to the hundreds of artists, producers, venues, residents and audience members who have been in touch with us this week to share their thoughts on the future of this year’s Fringe.

“Whilst there have been many different opinions expressed, we know that definitive answers are needed and we hope to have them for you next week.

“Progress is being made in this area and we will continue to push for answers over the coming days.”

She added: “This week we have been in regular dialogue with Scottish Government, City of Edinburgh Council, venues, partners and other stakeholders to work through all the options and find solutions.

“This is a complicated process but one that is moving forward daily.”

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