Edinburgh Festivals Impact on Scotland's Cultural Sector

11 July 2018

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.

2018 Research Reports

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.

Commenting on the reports, Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs said:

These reports demonstrate the benefit of the Scottish Government’s Festivals Expo Fund to the Edinburgh Festivals and to culture and artists across Scotland. The fund supports a wide range of Scotland’s productions and artists through the Festivals. It enables their work to be seen on an international platform which supports their careers and global visibility. The Festivals themselves create a multitude of wider benefits throughout Scotland’s creative industries, helping to sustain Scottish talent and encourage people to take part in cultural activity.

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 audience reach of 4.6m annually, is unrivalled anywhere else in the world. Together the Festivals support thousands of jobs and the local and Scottish economies. These are the first reports to document how Edinburgh’s Festivals anchor the nation’s booming cultural and events sectors.

Sorcha Carey, Chair of Festivals Edinburgh, further stated:

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.

Richard Naylor, Director of Research at BOP Consulting, added:

This research highlights that being the home of these large-scale, internationally renowned events benefits cultural and event organisations across Scotland.

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 Survey revealing 76% of residents say that the Festivals make Edinburgh a better place to live.


  • The Network Effect was written by BOP Consulting, supported by EventScotland and Creative Scotland
  • Ten Years of Expo was written by Dr Jakov Jandrićof the University of Edinburgh through the Innovation Fellows scheme run by Research Councils UK
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