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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 February, 2005, 16:33 GMT
Edinburgh festival in cash crisis
Edinburgh Festival Theatre
The festival has an international reputation
A decision on an emergency funding application from the Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) has been deferred by the city's council.

The festival's director, Brian McMaster, has warned that the programme for this year could be scaled back if it does not receive an extra 600,000.

Half of the cash has been promised by the Scottish Executive.

However, councillors expressed dismay at the late notification they had been given of the funding crisis.

Cost of performers

EventScotland, the executive quango which assists major events, has said it will provide 300,000 if the city council matches the amount.

Edinburgh councillors have agreed to meet the Culture Minister Patricia Ferguson on Wednesday to discuss the crisis.

The festival's programme is due to be launched on 17 March, with events running from 14 August to 4 September.

A report prepared for councillors said that the EIF had prepared a "full, but by no means extravagant, programme" for this summer.

It said that while ticket prices had increased in line with inflation, the price of staging productions had risen much faster.

The Hub
The festival operates at venues across the city

The costs of performers, orchestras and venues have all risen significantly in recent years, as has the price of providing accommodation in Edinburgh during the summer.

The report to the council said that extra cash was needed to "facilitate a programme which will secure the festival's national and international reputation for high artistic standards".

Without sufficient resources, "serious damage" could be inflicted on the festival's impact and reputation, which "could take years to repair", it said.

Performance targets

The EIF already receives almost 1.5m a year in public funding and is thought to generate almost 20m in income for the city.

The extra funding would be primarily used for artistic productions, venues and technical support but some of the cash would improve marketing to attract new customers or target existing ones.

EventScotland and the city council have agreed a number of performance targets that the festival would have to reach this year.

These include increased ticket sales (up to 2.11m), 186 performances, a sales target of 74% of capacity, and a total audience of 340,000 when un-ticketed events are included.

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