Unique Funding Partnership Backs Festivals Ambitions for Wider Reach

PLACE launch phone pic 975x400
The first details of a major new investment programme for the Edinburgh Festivals have been announced today, which will enable festival programmes to be more diverse and global, benefitting new participants and future generations. 

In a unique three-way partnership between the Scottish Government, the City of Edinburgh Council and the Edinburgh Festivals, the PLACE [Platforms for Creative Excellence] programme will provide £15 million over the next five years for a range of creative and community projects which will renew the Festivals' ambition and purpose after the defining moment of their 70th anniversary. The Programme is funded by the Scottish Government, the City of Edinburgh Council, and the Edinburgh Festivals, and supported and administered by Creative Scotland. 

The introduction of the five-year commitment of the Platforms for Creative Excellence Programme creates a strategic approach to evolving the future direction of the festivals through long-term developments and collaborations with global as well as Scottish partners. 

Today's announcement of the first £5.8m of this investment programme supports a huge range of local, national and international projects across three areas which will be game-changers for the scale, innovation and reach of the festivals: 

  • Sustained and strengthened programming innovation: which will see new commissions, global and European premieres, multi-year national and international programming partnerships and onward tours of work, including:
    • A global programme of performance, creative development and community engagement as part of the International Festival
    • Spectacular arts interventions developed by globally renowned companies with local partners as part of Hogmanay celebrations
    • A unique programme bringing Scottish and international writers together to explore hotspots in world politics and share inside stories of their journeys with audiences
    • Creating and exporting major interactive exhibitions based on Scotland's research strengths in science and technology, with new international partners
  • Increased creative development opportunities across Scotland: which will see skills development opportunities for schools, teachers, young people and professionals using the Edinburgh Festivals platform, including:
    • An innovative schools programme called Inspiring Generations, bringing world-class theatre and dance into 21 schools alongside year-round artist engagement to help teachers boost creative learning
    • An international partnership with the Earth Charter Initiative to develop the Global Storytelling Lab as a fulcrum for new experimental work emphasising people and places
    • A challenging nationwide film programme of curated screenings, workshops, masterclasses for and with young people from across Scotland
  • Improved lives for citizens and communities through cultural engagement: which will see community partnerships, community-based productions and creative learning projects, including:
    • A dynamic Fringe plan to break down barriers to the arts by collaborating with 31 charities in Edinburgh's most socially-excluded communities
    • A stimulating series of new public artworks commissioned with community partners in under-served areas
    • The creation of a new jazz performance centre, rehearsal space and open-access music hub at the heart of one local Edinburgh community

The PLACE programme recognises the Edinburgh's Festivals unique role at the centre of Scotland's cultural and tourism sectors, with recent studies having shown that:

  • the Festivals invest c£14.4m annually with Scottish based individuals and organisations on creative programming and event production
  • they had an attendance of c4.7m during 2018, putting them on a par with a FIFA World Cup and second only to the Olympic Games
  • 50% of people at the Festivals are residents of Scotland, with the remaining 50% being visitors to Scotland
  • the economic impact of the Festivals on the Scottish economy is £313m annually, with most of that funding benefitting the accommodation and wider tourist sector 

At the end of its five year programme, it is anticipated that the PLACE programme will have strengthened the resilience of the Festivals as key national assets, enhanced Scotland's global creative reputation through innovative programmes, contributed to positive outcomes for communities, schools and citizens, and brought more money and jobs in to the economy. 

Announcing the PLACE programme, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop, said:

The investment is about ensuring Festivals can continue to develop and innovate so they can be world leading in a competitive market, to share the cultural experiences of the Festivals more widely across Scotland and to help more residents and communities of Edinburgh to be part of the Festivals city.
The Scottish Government is committed to sustaining and improving Edinburgh's position as the world's leading festival city. This partnership will provide £15 million over the next five years and builds on the £21 million we have provided to the Edinburgh Festivals through the Expo fund since 2008

Commenting on the announcement, City of Edinburgh Council Leader Adam McVey, said

Borne out of our productive City Region Deal discussions with the Scottish Government, this joint funding package is a commitment to protect the legacy and support the future of our festivals.
Between them, the festivals attract audiences of over 4.5m and are vital to our city's success and reputation, adding £313m to the Scottish economy every year.  It is a huge milestone to announce this first phase of investment. The funding will support some really pioneering projects, ones which without our joint support could not take place.

Councillor Donald Wilson, Culture and Communities Convener, City of Edinburgh Council added:

The Festivals have never been more successful yet there are challenges on the horizon. This one-off funding package is a chance to bolster our Festival City's international ambitions and build on their 70 year legacy.
In line with our own aspirations to expand the reach of festival activity beyond the city centre and into our communities, and to bring the benefits of the festivals to some of the most socially excluded in Edinburgh, many of these projects are also perfect examples of how we hope to see the festivals develop going forward.

Responding to the announcement, Sorcha Carey, Chair of Festivals Edinburgh, said:

The Festivals'success has always rested on a combination of the local, national and international - resulting in inspirational programming which is authentically rooted in Scotland and creatively engaged with the world. The PLACE programme will support us to sustain and enhance our unique programming - nurturing our creatives, stimulating our economy and energising our communities.

Iain Munro, Acting Chief Executive, Creative Scotland, commented:

Edinburgh's Festivals are a very important and precious asset for culture in Scotland.  They play a vital role in connecting Scotland to the world through showcasing our outstanding talent on the international stage and bringing people together from across the globe.
Platforms for Creative Excellence elevates and enhances this work further, not only in Edinburgh, but connecting with new artists, audiences and companies across Scotland and beyond, helping strengthen our global creative reputation. 

Today's funding announcement of £5.8m is for the first three years of the PLACE programme and decisions on the further £4.2m will be made in 2021/22 – with that total of £10m being supported by £5m from the Festivals, spread over the full five years of the programme, to create an overall funding package of £15m.

[Pictured in the front row - at the announcement of the funding programme in St Bride's Centre, Edinburgh which will become a new jazz performance centre as part of the PLACE funding - from left to right are Sorcha Carey [Chair, Festivals Edinburgh], Fiona Hyslop MSP [Cabinet Secretary for Cultural, Tourism & External Affairs, Scottish Government] and Adam McVey [Leader, City of Edinburgh Council].


Notes to Editors:

The information below provides an overview of the projects announced today and further detail of individual PLACE projects will be announced by each Festival in due course.

Edinburgh International Science Festival - £532,000

Edinburgh International Science Festival will place science at the heart of culture by:

  • Developing and touring innovative new science-themed content that plays to Scotland's research strengths, to audiences in Scotland and across Europe
  • Devising new frameworks and opportunities for upskilling the creative people from across science, and the arts and digital/creative industries - including through a delegate programme and early-stage development of new content
  • Expanding the festival's work with underserved audiences in local communities to remove barriers to access and train youth leaders to embed science as part of their core activities

Edinburgh International Children's Festival - £534,602

Inspiring Generation is a new innovative programme, to be launched in Imaginate's 30th anniversary year, designed to:

  • Inspire schools to engage more deeply than ever before with theatre and dance
  • Inspire new and more diverse audiences to attend the festival
  • Inspire artists to make new theatre and dance for children and young people
  • Inspire teachers to find new ways to use the performing arts in their practice

Edinburgh International Film Festival - £373,647

Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) provides a platform for the world's best films and filmmakers, for industry and talent development, and for young people to engage with film – as filmmakers, as curators and as audiences. With support from the PLACE Programme EIFF will:

  • Embed its industry and talent development programmes within the artistic vision of the Festival, creating pathways in film talent development for participants from across Scotland
  • Deliver an inspiring, challenging and accessible programme of curated screenings, workshops, masterclasses for and with young people from across Scotland

Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival - £635,489

A new direction for Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival (EJ&BF) that will underpin a strong future: year round programming, with impact at local community, Edinburgh, Scottish, and international levels - based at St Bride's Community Centre, Dalry. The programme will include:

  • Community music engagement programme for the city of Edinburgh
  • Carnival, multi-cultural arts, and street arts hub for the city and Scotland
  • Support for the Scottish jazz and blues sector, including an annual conference, a rehearsal and small scale performance centre in Edinburgh and new international initiatives
  • A long term relationship with an established Edinburgh community group, aiming to increase cultural, social, and economic benefit for the local community

Edinburgh Art Festival - £645,000

A series of ambitious international commissions, supported by a strong network of national and international partners; a dedicated programme for developing new artistic and curatorial talent; and two multi-year partnerships with local communities resulting in new works co-commissioned with a community.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society - £500,000

The Fringe programme will help to deliver the vision that everyone, irrespective of their background, should have the opportunity to experience and express themselves through creativity. Building upon the Fringe's international reputation, it will deliver positive outcomes for artists, industry professionals, communities and young people across three strands:

  • Building Scotland's global arts marketplace - by strengthening the world's greatest meeting place for creatives, industry professionals and media
  • Breaking down barriers to the arts - by collaborating with 31 charities in Edinburgh's most socially-excluded communities to improve access to culture
  • Inspiring young people in our schools - by bridging the gap between performing artists on the Fringe and Scotland's teachers and young people

Edinburgh International Festival - £1,200,000

The International Festival will produce a global programme of world class performance, creative development and community engagement designed to secure the international reputation of the International Festival and of the City of Edinburgh as a centre of 21st century innovation and creativity.

It responds to the urgent need to represent a wider range of voices than those currently offered – geographically, socially and artistically - harnessing their work for the wider good of the citizens of Edinburgh and the development of Scotland's creative sector and individual artists.

It will operate as an expansive collaboration, partnering with government agencies, businesses, arts companies and the education sector in Scotland, the UK and globally.

Edinburgh International Book Festival - £585,000

The Edinburgh International Book Festival (EIBF) will build confident, empowered communities of thought via three core programmes of activity:

  • Citizen: A three-year residency programme, empowering communities across Edinburgh to engage in democratic discourse and build a relationship with the August Festival
  • A biennial programme bringing Scottish and international writers together to make physical journeys exploring geopolitical contexts and create work inspired by their experiences
  • Playing with Books: A programme of original cross-artform commissions exploring new ways of presenting books and ideas

Scottish International Storytelling Festival - £300,000

Programme investment will ensure the sustainable growth of the Scottish International Storytelling Festival (SISF) and its connection to Edinburgh and Scotland by nurturing the creativity of place through a combination of strategic lines of action, leading to Programme Innovation, Creative Development Opportunities and Improved Lives for Citizens and Communities:

  • Global storytelling LAB and Earth Charter Initiative;
  • Artists commissions: Scotland and the World;
  • Digital innovation;
  • Partnerships and Residencies;
  • Storytelling bursaries and Apprentice programmes;
  • People's Parish: Creative Place Practice;
  • Community outreach campaign;
  • Online resources development; and
  • Volunteers programme

Edinburgh's Hogmanay - £400,000

Edinburgh's Hogmanay will invite an international arts company to take over and reimagine segments of the iconic Street Party on 31 December each year. Each year, a world-leading cultural partner will collaborate with Scottish companies to create large-scale interventions along Princes Street, at the heart of the Hogmanay celebrations.

In front of crowds of thousands, these innovative partnerships will result not only in new work, but skills development and the exchange of ideas across international boundaries, as well as growth in the organisational capacity, competency and creative practice of all partners.

Festivals Edinburgh - £140,000

Festivals Edinburgh will develop three projects to connect with more communities and creatives, sustaining Edinburgh's leading festival city position locally and globally:

  • The first component is mapping the community engagement opportunities of all the festivals, creating easy to access information, and extending connections with new areas and new partners across Edinburgh
  • Secondly, a project to increase knowledge sharing on festivals management to creative professionals across the country will be delivered through networking, peer support and advice
  • Finally, by capturing impacts of all PLACE programme projects, an international evidence bank will be developed on how festivals can work at the heart of cultural, social and economic wellbeing

For further information on any aspect of the PLACE programme, please contact: beth.thoms@festivalsedinburgh.com or +44 (0)131 529 7377


What is the PLACE programme?

  • The Platforms for Creative Excellence (PLACE) Programme is a five year co-investment programme between the City of Edinburgh Council, the Scottish Government and the Edinburgh Festivals. It is a legacy of the 70th anniversary season of the Edinburgh Festivals and is divided between three workstreams:
    • Programming Innovation: Programme innovation including international premieres, collaborative commissions, multi-year partnerships
    • Creative Development: Residencies and talent programmes, creative development collaborations, mentoring and knowledge sharing
    • Citizen Engagement: Community partnerships, school collaborations, skills development for young people

Why is the PLACE programme needed?

  • The Thundering Hooves 2.0 report recognised how innovation in programme, enterprise and investment had successfully allowed the Festivals to weather the economic downturn but that they had become stretched.

    In the five-year period leading up to the report, annual core grant funding to the Festivals was reduced by 15% (or £1.16m) in real terms. In the same period the Festivals increased annual earned income by 35% (or £6.3m), including replacing all major financial services sponsors and securing new corporate and individual support.

    This transformation has meant that although the Festivals have succeeded in securing continued growth, the increased requirements of a more diverse funding platform has stretched management capacity. And this is set in the context of a continued rise in costs well above inflation, including in areas of charging such as travel and artists' costs, licensing, policing, traffic management and visa administration.

How is the PLACE programme funded?

  • The PLACE Programme is a three-way funding partnership between the Scottish Government, (supported and administered through Creative Scotland), the City of Edinburgh Council, and ten of the eleven Edinburgh Festivals and Festivals Edinburgh.

    The announcement of the PLACE programme was made in August 2017, with the framework and process worked out over the next six months, before then opening for applications in the financial year 2018/19 - with the aim of delivering the first programmes during the 2019 Festivals.

Is funding for the PLACE programme secure?

  • Each partner has made an annual in-principle commitment of £1m for the duration of the programme, providing a total programme fund of £3m per year, and the programme will run for a period of five years.

How have the PLACE programme decisions been made?

  • Applications for the PLACE Programme were received from 10 of the 11 Edinburgh Festivals [the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo decided not to submit an application] and from Festivals Edinburgh. Applications were initially assessed by officers across a range of services within the City of Edinburgh Council and Creative Scotland for feasibility and impact of proposals.

    An evaluation panel of lead officers from the City of Edinburgh Council and Creative Scotland further assessed the creative development, cultural impact, community engagement, monitoring, evaluation and financial viability of the proposals to reach a consensus across the funding partners.

    The Festivals were invited to individual meetings to further describe their proposals and clarify any questions arising from the assessment process.

How will the PLACE programme be monitored and evaluated?

  • Following approval of the awards, contracts will be drafted and issued to each recipient including evaluation baselines and reporting mechanisms. For the duration of the programme each PLACE project will be assigned joint lead officers from the City of Edinburgh Council and Creative Scotland or other Scottish Government agencies (e.g. EventScotland) to monitor the project. A rolling programme of evaluation and monitoring will be developed to allow for annual reporting.

    Working with Creative Scotland and City of Edinburgh Council officers in Lifelong Learning and Localities, a mapping exercise led by Festivals Edinburgh will be undertaken to ensure that the impact of the Citizen Engagement and Creative Development workstreams is allocated across the city as a whole.
  • Scottish Government
  • City of Edinburgh Council
  • Creative Scotland
  • Event Scotland
  • Scottish Enterprise
  • British Council Scotland
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