Festivals Edinburgh is a strategic umbrella organisation focused on over-arching areas of mutual interest. Its sole focus is to maintain and develop the value of the Festivals’ and the Festival City’s leading position locally and globally, via major collaborative projects and strategic initiatives.

All of our work is dependent on a strong commitment to collaborative working and on a sense of shared ambition and responsibility across all our member festivals. The Festivals Edinburgh Board is made up of the Festival CEOs or Directors; and each Festivals Edinburgh workstrand is directed and supported by collaborative working groups comprising of staff members from the Festivals themselves.

At the time of its founding in 2007, the then Director Faith Liddell worked 2 days a week. As of 2022, the organisation employs 6 staff, including current Director Julia Amour. Festivals Edinburgh is currently funded by subscriptions from our member festivals and project funding from a variety of public or private sector support. 

As well as being the result of the shared understanding, the will and the ambition of its constituent Festivals and Directors, the creation of Festivals Edinburgh was also galvanised by three key documents:

  • The City of Edinburgh Council’s Festivals Strategy
  • The subsequent Economic Impact Evaluation of Edinburgh’s key Festivals
  • And finally and most importantly the Thundering Hooves Report

Thundering Hooves (metaphorically named after the sound of the competition catching up with Edinburgh) confirmed the internationally significant role of Edinburgh’s Festivals and suggested that there were grounds for confidence in the short-term of their pre-eminent position. However, the report concluded that when viewed against the sustained development of some of the actively competitive cities over the next 5-7 years, Edinburgh’s current enviable position as a pre-eminent Festival city was less secure. The Thundering Hooves report made recommendations to ensure Edinburgh’s role as the major international Festival city is secured into the future.

Although the festivals had been working together for some time and there was already a draft Business Plan for a proposed Edinburgh Festivals Association, it was the medium and long term agenda set out in Thundering Hooves and summarised in the Thundering Hooves Action Plan that defined Festivals Edinburgh’s role as a strategic organisation. The fourteen recommendations in the Thundering Hooves Action Plan can be distilled into four key areas;

  • Strategic planning
  • Marketing
  • Programme development
  • Infrastructure

These four areas provided the initial focus for the work of Festivals Edinburgh and a clear agenda for the work of the bodies we work most closely with. More detail on our current strategic priorities can be found in Our Strategy.

Unaddressed these priorities represent significant threats to the festivals and to Edinburgh as the world’s leading festival city. Addressed through our own work, and in collaboration with our stakeholders and funders, they offer significant opportunities to enhance.our world leading status.

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