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14/08/14 12:57

‘Greatest year ever’ for Scotland’s Festivals

Number and breadth of festivals hailed by Cabinet Secretary for Culture.

The scale and variety of festivals in Scotland during 2014 have amounted to a ‘ground-breaking’ year, Fiona Hyslop said today.

The Cabinet Secretary paid tribute to the 200-plus annual festivals across the country that make Scotland such a vibrant place to live and visit, from Up Helly Aa in Shetland, to the Glasgow Comedy Festival, now the biggest of its kind in Europe.

During a Scottish Government debate today at Holyrood, Ms Hyslop also highlighted the successes of Festival 2014 and Culture 2014, the two strands of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games Cultural Programme, in boosting the annual events’ calendar.

The Commonwealth Games Highlights report, released today by the Scottish Government and Games partners, refers to it being the largest multi-sport and cultural event to be held in Scotland in a generation. Around 1500 cultural events have involved thousands of artists, performers and participants in hundreds of locations nationwide.

Ms Hyslop said:

“This is perhaps the greatest year ever for festivals in Scotland, both in the number and the sheer breadth of festivals taking place. These range from the long established and internationally renowned, to small community events which have risen up, buoyed by this year’s feel-good factor. All have played their part in making 2014 a year to remember.

“Festival 2014, the Games-time cultural programme, attracted over 750,000 visits to four Live Zones in Glasgow as well as boasting over 6000 performers in 1000-plus performances in 100 venues city-wide.

“Culture 2014 started in January and runs until the end of August, comprising the most ambitious national cultural celebration ever to take place in Scotland. International connections have featured in 109 Cultural Programme projects, bringing the Commonwealth to Scotland’s doorstep.

“I am delighted that Culture 2014 and Festival 2014 have proudly matched the sporting action and combined fully to making the Commonwealth Games the best games ever.

“We are not resting on our laurels and I am pleased that the Festivals Forum, Edinburgh Festival key stakeholders, will be undertaking a new forward thinking study to consider the future sustainability, success and development of Edinburgh’s major Festivals.

“Year-round, the combined Edinburgh Festivals attract 25,000-plus international artists and audiences of over four million. £261m is ploughed into the Scottish economy, with £41m spent on accommodation and £37m in cafes and bars.

“The Edinburgh Festivals represent a great tourism gateway, with 77 per cent of visitors from outside Scotland saying the Festivals made them more likely to visit Edinburgh again. This is turn opens visitors’ eyes to our wider tourism offering, benefitting business and communities across Scotland.

“This year visitors have had the bonus of being able to participate in an exciting Homecoming 2014 programme, that has celebrated the very best of Scotland’s food and drink, our country’s assets of natural beauty, plus our rich creativity, cultural and ancestral heritage.

“I was pleased to see from the 2013 Scottish Household Survey results, published yesterday, an increase in cultural engagement among adults. 91 per cent went to, or took part, in a cultural event or place in 2013.

“Of course this groundbreaking year isn’t over yet and there is still very much to look forward to, from the Dark Skye Star Party in Skye, to our world-famous Hogmanay celebrations, plus showpiece events like the MTV Europe Awards and Ryder Cup Gala Concert.”

Notes to editors

Culture 2014 highlights have included

• GENERATION, a celebration of 25 years of contemporary art in Scotland

• Big Big Sing which culminated in a 14,000 crowd singing on Glasgow Green

• Get Scotland Dancing, from free dance classes to a 24-hour Commonwealth Ceilidh

The hugely diverse Festival 2014 line-up ranged from Boomerang, a musical celebration of indigenous cultures, to The River, a multiform tale of migration on the banks of the Clyde.

The Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund has invested £14 million since 2008 (£2.25m in 2014) in supporting new productions, events or exhibitions with Scottish-based participants, which are premiered at any of the twelve Edinburgh Festivals.

The new Edinburgh Festivals review will build upon the Thundering Hooves report published in 2006.