Our Cultural Capital

The Council has an important, but not exclusive, role to play in Edinburgh's ongoing cultural well-being, says Culture & Sport Convener, Cllr Richard Lewis...

In his column 'Private visions boost capital's culture cred' (Scotsman, November 19) Brian Ferguson celebrates the impact of Edinburgh's venues on the city's reputation as a 'centre of cultural excellence'. He makes a good point.

Naturally, the Council is committed to preserving and enhancing this - as demonstrated by our recent investments into key venues, the Usher Hall, Assembly Rooms and King's Theatre. There are also a number of independent refurbishment and development plans in the offing, which are being pursued by venues such as the Traverse, Queen's Hall and Edinburgh Printmakers.

The Council also has a part to play in the promotion of the city's assets and cultural environment.  This encompasses everything from active participation to performance and exhibition - of dance, music, film, visual art and theatre amongst many others.

This could involve a number of services across the Council - our roads, parks or buildings acting as a film location; licensing; or our most celebrated artists performing or exhibiting in our venues and galleries.

Our festivals continue to lead the world and, once again, we have a responsibility to ensure their continued success for the city.

Of course, all of this activity requires a backdrop - whether it's a theatre or a museum, a square or a street - and over the last few years the Council has played its part in assessing need, mapping venues and supporting those delivering these art forms and experiences.

But this shouldn't fall solely on the local authority to deliver and later this month the Council, with funding support from Interreg's Open Innovation programme, is bringing together a broad mix of individuals and organisations to consider afresh Edinburgh's cultural infrastructure. We will have representatives from government, public agencies, arts, business and funders - and input from leading academic, Professor Pier Luigi Sacco.

This has been organised as a small event with no pre-conceptions as to findings, outcomes or actions, but more as an open discussion which might inspire some fresh thinking.

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