Despite the continued financial restraints placed on local authority budgets, I am pleased to say our Council Motion recognises the critically important role culture plays in our communities, to our economy and our global reputation as a cultural capital.
The support we have outlined for the city’s cultural venues this year is outstanding and could see us provide more investment in this area than we have in over a decade.
If agreed, it will include funding the development of the new multi-purpose IMPACT concert hall which will provide a programme of community engagement with young people and Edinburgh residents, as well as a new home for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Furthermore, major investment in the redevelopment of Leith Theatre is proposed, where grassroots artists and popular music will become commonplace. This is particularly important given the more recent changes in the live music scene in Edinburgh.
A £4m cash injection in the much-loved King’s Theatre will enable the venue to progress its redevelopment ambitions, while plans to implement longer opening hours will, I hope, see our museum and galleries open every day, enabling the city’s vast collections of over 200,000 artworks and artefacts to be enjoyed by both residents and visitors alike throughout the year.
Capitalising on the success of the 70th anniversary year of the Festivals, this budget motion also cements investment into our festivals in association with the Scottish Government and Festivals Edinburgh. This funding is in recognition of the need to invest now to protect and enhance the city’s festivals and quality of offering and to manage their sustainable growth.
I hope to see this funding drive creative innovation through long-term programming, help to diversify the festivals year-round partnerships with the culture sector across the city and Scotland, increase career and skills development capacity for creatives and young people, and build new and lasting relationships with local communities.
More money to empower localities will also be asked for, alongside £50k to develop a programme of local community cultural events throughout the year.
These are projects I have pushed for since taking up my post as Edinburgh’s Culture and Communities Convener and this is a budget which supports the cultural community to reach out to Edinburgh citizens and offer them the opportunity to enjoy all artforms in years to come. The combination of capital and revenue investment in Edinburgh’s cultural ecology is, I hope, something that the entire Council can get behind.