The Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) and the Fringe are expected to share in the £8.6 million funding boost from the UK Government announced in Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s Spring Budget.
The Government’s move to provide direct funding support will mean the Scottish Government, arts agency Creative Scotland and umbrella body Festivals Edinburgh will not be involved in how the funding is distributed.
It is believed as much as £7m may be offered to the Fringe Society to help create a permanent new base in the city centre to bring performers, companies and arts industry workers together. The festival has been pursuing the idea, which is also aimed at encouraging more local residents to attend events and inspiring future generations of performers, for the past six years.
Organisers of the Fringe have hailed the recognition for the event, the biggest arts festival in the world, as “hugely important”.
The funding for the EIF, which is expected to be used for programming, will be a major boost to the event ahead of the first festival under new director Nicola Benedetti.
The UK Government has already committed £10m towards the creation of Edinburgh’s first new concert hall for a century. Work has just begun on the Dunard Centre, off St Andrew Square, which will be used by the EIF and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.
Fringe Society chief executive Shona McCarthy said: “It is hugely important that the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and the vital role that it plays in the UK's creative ecology has been recognised by investment from the UK Government. We have been actively lobbying in Scotland and the UK for support to ease the many economic pressures that the festival is currently facing.
"We are enormously grateful for this significant funding and are in contact with the Scotland Office to understand more of the detail around the announcement.”
Ms Benedetti said: “We are delighted that the UK Government has committed funds to supporting UK artists onto the world stage at Edinburgh International Festival.
"This will ensure the greatest talent from the UK can continue to be presented alongside some of the world’s leading artists in dance, music, theatre and opera, in Edinburgh this August.
"The investment in the International Festival and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe will help boost the city’s reputation as a destination for culture and in turn contribute to the economy of the Festival City.”
A spokesman for Creative Scotland said: “We welcome the Chancellor’s announcement of up to £8.6m in support of Scotland’s festival economy. This continues to be a challenging time for cultural organisations, and all support for culture in Scotland is a good thing. We look forward to hearing more details, including how this funding is to be allocated.”