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Edinburgh’s 10-year strategy to sustain and strengthen its world leading festival city status

BOP's Sabina Strachan on ‘Thundering Hooves 2.0’, the BOP-FEI strategy for Edinburgh’s Festivals Forum.

Today marks the culmination of BOP’s year-long project with Festivals and Events International to develop the future strategy for Edinburgh’s Festivals in partnership with the strategic stakeholder group Festivals Forum.

An end but also a beginning, as the Forum – which includes the Scottish Government, Creative Scotland, City of Edinburgh Council, VisitScotland, EventScotland, the British Council and Festivals Edinburgh – and the Festivals themselves move forward with the implementation of 38 recommendations over the next 10 years.

The Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop said, “The Scottish Government recognises the importance of Edinburgh’s Festivals to the whole of Scotland…. We welcome today’s report as a driver for future change”.

We identified six key themes, which emerged as significant drivers of change. These are:
Our research shows that “Edinburgh is the undisputed world leader as a festival city”. It has achieved a great deal in an ever-changing and often challenging context over the last 10 years during which the Festivals have responded organisationally, innovatively, and entrepreneurially. BOP’s 2011 Impact Study also shows that the festivals are worth at least £261 million to the Scottish economy and we are in the process of updating that impact study, with the results due in 2016.

  • The Festival City: Infrastructure and operations need to continue to evolve to ensure The Festival City provides an unrivalled experience for its citizens, and the artists, audiences and opinion-formers who visit from around the world
  • Deep and Wide Engagement: The festivals will collaborate to support educational aims and social justice through participation, learning and belonging
  • National and Global Positioning: Relationship-building and developing strong international partnerships is central to forging a new understanding of leadership for the city and Scotland, with branding and marketing providing a voice on the world stage
  • Digital Ways and Means: Looking at the balance between the live and the digital experience, and developing a strategy to make the most of new technologies incorporating partnerships across the public and private sector
  • Investment and Enterprise: Recognising the challenges facing public finances, the report urges that funders maintain existing levels whilst alternative funding models are considered
  • Developing and Delivering: Recommendations of ways for stakeholders to develop the Festivals Forum including new terms of reference and responsibilities, to allow the structures to evolve and embrace new opportunities to take Edinburgh’s Festivals through the next decade.

In order to sustain and strengthen the festivals and the benefits they bring, our report makes it clear that “the next 10 years is about capitalising on this reputation and advantage, finding new ways of experiencing and investing in one of Scotland’s greatest assets.”

The Chair of the Festivals Forum, Lady Susan Rice, said: “While much has been delivered already, this review and re-focus will ensure Edinburgh addresses key challenges and opportunities ensuring the Festival City retains its global competitive edge in the months and years to come.”

Thundering Hooves 2.0 can be downloaded from the Festivals Edinburgh website here.

Image credit: kaysgeog on Flickr Creative Commons