New research reveals importance of Edinburgh Festivals to Scotland’s culture and events sector

An annual investment of £14.4m by the Edinburgh Festivals in Scotland’s cultural sector and the crucial importance of the Festivals Expo Fund are two of the key findings from reports released today.

The research reports - ‘The Network Effect’ and ‘Ten Years of Expo’ - were commissioned to follow on from the Edinburgh Festivals 2015 Impact Study through examining the cultural impact of the festivals in more depth.

While ‘The Network Effect’ reveals the significant contribution of the Festivals to Scotland’s cultural and events landscape in one given year [2016-17], ‘Ten Years of Expo’ reveals for the first time the crucial catalytic role of the Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund in increasing funding for Scottish artists, encouraging creative collaborations and maintaining the Festivals' global competitive edge

Amongst the key findings of the reports are:

  • the Edinburgh Festivals spent £14.4m with Scottish based individuals and organisations on event production and creative talent during 2016-17, representing 46% of the Festivals’ collective total expenditure
  • £9.3m of that spend was with Scottish based organisations on event production during 2016-17, being 89% of the total £10.5m collective Festivals spend on event production
  • £5.1m of that spend was with Scottish based creative talent during 2016-17, being 56% of the total £9.3m collective Festivals spend on creative talent
  • over its 10 years Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund has resulted in at least 550 new commissions, 11,000 performances/events, and audiences of over 5 million
  • one in ten festivals audiences have attended an Expo-funded event, illustrating the strength of Edinburgh’s Festivals as platforms to connect Scottish artists and audiences
  • through the Festivals, Scottish creative talent gets high profile promotion in local and international markets that is essential to their financial development
  • for the event production sector, the Festivals create stability whilst reducing risk, developing new talent and forming professional networks
  • a high number of formal and informal training initiatives are built around the rich opportunities that the Festivals present for practitioners, technicians and cultural managers, ensuring there is a strong pool of talent available
  • the Edinburgh Festivals create a ‘halo effect’ bringing global recognition of Scotland as a home for culture which gives both cultural organisations and audiences pride and confidence across the nation

Richard Naylor, Director of Research at BOP Consulting, said: “This research highlights that being the home of these large-scale, internationally renowned events benefits cultural and event organisations across Scotland.”

Sorcha Carey, Chair of Festivals Edinburgh said: “Our Festivals are both profoundly international and distinctly Scottish and we are proud of the unique role we play in supporting the country’s cultural sector.”

Both reports follow on from the Festivals 70th anniversary year in 2017 which saw record audiences of c.4.6m and record participation by local residents, with the Edinburgh People’s Survey revealing 76% of residents say that the Festivals make Edinburgh a better place to live.

Councillor Donald Wilson, Culture and Communities Convener, City of Edinburgh Council, said: “The enduring appeal of Edinburgh’s Festivals to visitors is widely recognised and, with an annual reach of 4.5m audience members, is unrivalled anywhere else in the world.

“Together they support thousands of jobs and the local and Scottish economies, but the lure of the festivals for artists, directors and production staff and wider benefits for the events industry have now been explored and the results tell a compelling story.

“This is the first report to document how Edinburgh’s Festivals anchor the nation’s booming cultural and events sectors. It highlights the ripple effect of the festivals and the unique opportunity they provide as a global gathering for industry leaders to ‘mingle en masse’ and collaborate, learn and innovate. The results are impressive.”


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