CHANCELLOR Jeremy Hunt is set to announce an £8.6 million funding boost for Edinburgh's festivals as part of the Spring Budget on Wednesday.

It comes weeks after Edinburgh lost out on a bid for “Levelling Up” funding, which was earmarked to transform historic cultural venues like Leith Theatre, the Queen's Hall and the King's Theatre. The "2030 vision" for the future of Edinburgh's festivals highlighted the need for new funding to help them remain world-leading.

The National: The King’s Theatre closed at the end of August 2022 in preparation for redevelopment

The announcement has the potential to cause friction with the Scottish Government. The SNP have often accused Westminster of using the “Levelling Up” fund as a “power grab” and a means of bypassing devolution.

The SNP previously said any funds earmarked for projects in Scotland should be handed to Holyrood, rather than spent directly by their UK counterpart.

“Whilst I absolutely welcome the fact the Edinburgh Festivals are getting more money, we are only getting what we deserve to get,” said SNP MP for Edinburgh East, Tommy Sheppard.

“And it would be incredibly helpful if a conversation happened between the two governments about how exactly this money is delivered.”

Scotland’s festival economy contributes more than £300m a year to the UK, sustaining more than 5000 jobs. In recent years, the Scottish Government has consistently provided approximately £7.5m in funding for the festivals, with Creative Scotland, its arts agency, overseeing the distribution of grants. Edinburgh City Council has also contributed roughly £3m.

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Some of Hunt’s funding boost may go towards creating a permanent headquarters for the Fringe festival, which draws thousands of performers and millions of visitors to Scotland’s capital each summer. It could also benefit other events like the Edinburgh International Festival, the Military Tattoo and the Film Festival.

Hunt said: “From Edinburgh’s Fringe to the International Festival, the city is world-famous for culture and it’s right to support it and help it grow.

“Millions of people flock to Edinburgh from all over the globe for its festivals, creating opportunities for incredible comedians, musicians, artists and more, as well as thousands of jobs each year – all contributing immensely to the UK’s shared economy.”

The National:

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack welcomed the funding announcement. He added: “This is fantastic news for Scotland. Our vibrant arts sector, with Edinburgh’s festivals at its heart, is rightly renowned internationally and makes a huge contribution to our economy and cultural landscape.

“The UK Government has consistently championed the sector, including with £97m of Covid support, and £10m for the Dunard Centre, Edinburgh’s first dedicated new space for music and the performing arts in 100 years.

"Edinburgh is a global centre for the arts and this funding will help the festivals continue to thrive and grow for many years to come.”