So our capital city is more than half way through hosting the world’s largest arts festival. As ever amidst this explosion of artistic creativity there are a few controversies. Should workers in fringe venues be paid the living wage? Were the owners of St Andrew Square right to close it to the fringe and Jazz & Blues festivals? And the debate that intrigues me most: dates.
The Edinburgh festival that most people think of in August is in fact a bunch of separate festivals. The biggest by far is the Fringe. The biggest funded is the International Festival. Then there’s the Tattoo, the Book Festival and the Art Festival. The dates of all of these overlap considerably.
I’m increasingly wondering whether putting all of our cultural and entertainment eggs in the one August basket is the best thing to do. Might it not be more sensible to stretch the festivals out over a longer summer season? Wouldn’t it be a lot better for everyone to schedule the events so there’s always something happening in our buzzing city from the Film Festival in June through to September? Spreading the festivals in this way would allow more people to attend and ease the problems such as congestion which infuriates locals in August.
One relatively easy way to do this would be to bring the Fringe forward by a week or two so that it coincides with the school holidays. As a result, eight things would happen:
I’m only chucking out ideas here – and this isn’t my decision. But those who are in charge really ought to have a big think. Festivals Edinburgh exists as an umbrella body for all the city’s festivals and I’d guess they are best placed to coordinate the views of those who actually make the things happen. But the hosts, and those who pay the money, ought to have a view too. So it’s right that our city council take a lead and steer this debate - I welcome the fact that our new cultural convenor seems up for the discussion. Just because things have always been that way doesn’t mean they have to stay that way.
This article first appeared in the Edinburgh Evening News on 17th August 2017.
The wait is nearly over. By next week the Tory party will have a new leader. And then they will foist him on the country at large. With most of the votes cast it seems that the clown prince is unstoppable. Barring a miracle Boris Johnson will be our next Prime Minister.
And then what?