Culture secretary Oliver Dowden said the UK Government said it will provide £1m to fund two new projects to expand the digital potential of the Edinburgh Festivals.
The Edinburgh Festivals are the biggest combined festivals in the UK, attracting audiences of nearly 5m every year, generating £313m for Scotland’s economy.
Last year many shows at the Edinburgh Festivals had to move online due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport said the challenge of moving to a combination of physical and online events, and the increased demand for British virtual cultural content around the globe, revealed the need to expand the Edinburgh Festivals’ digital capabilities as part of the cultural sector’s post-Covid recovery.
It said the funding will enable more ways for people to virtually access the events across the country, increase opportunities for UK artists and ensure Edinburgh’s landmark events will continue to be major contributors to the UK’s economy and cultural landscape.
The 11 festivals in the Festivals Edinburgh event portfolio will be able to apply for a share of a new £500,000 fund which will support innovative virtual solutions to the challenges of commissioning, producing and promoting festival programmes in an increasingly digitised cultural sector. The funding will help encourage collaboration between events and develop hybrid events with live and digital elements.
Another £500,000 will be provided to create a new digital platform that will help national and international buyers and producers search for talent and content from the festivals’ hugely varied programmes, which showcase thousands of artists and performers every year, and promote the work of British artists and performers around the world.
The funds will be available to Festivals Edinburgh this financial year. Events with live audiences at limited capacities in Scotland will return no earlier than 17 May, and further details about the planning for this year’s Edinburgh Festivals will be released in due course.
The DCMS said the funding builds on £100,000 previously awarded to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2018 to better connect UK artists with international producers. The UK Government has provided £10m for the Dunard Centre, through the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal. It will be the city’s first dedicated new space for music and the performing arts in 100 years.
Scotland also received £97m from the UK Government’s Culture Recovery Fund to provide support for the nation’s arts and cultural sectors.
Dowden said, “Edinburgh’s Festivals have long been a springboard for the very best of British talent and a vital part of culture in Scotland and the UK. The UK Government’s investment will promote it to a worldwide audience online, helping the UK’s biggest combined festival build back better from the pandemic.
Minister for Scotland Iain Stewart said, “Edinburgh is world-famous for its festivals, bringing wider benefits to Scotland’s economy, tourism and arts sectors. We know the last 12 months have been difficult for the culture sector. This £1 million funding boost will support organisations to improve their digital capabilities and engage with audiences here in Scotland and further afield.
“This is on top of £97 million we provided last year to the Scottish Government to support Scotland’s arts organisations through the pandemic. Like everyone else, I look forward to our fantastic arts and culture coming back better than ever before, as soon as it is safe to do so.”