Edinburgh festival aims to beat recession blues

Wed Mar 25, 2009 6:11pm EDT
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By Ian MacKenzie

EDINBURGH (Reuters Life!) - The Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) hopes to shake off the recession blues with a wide-ranging program for its 2009 season inspired by Scotland's 18th century enlightenment.

The festival's Australian director Jonathan Mills unveiled the program on Wednesday, covering opera, music, ballet, theater, the visual arts and debate which runs from August 14 to September 6.

The EIF runs in parallel with the anarchic Fringe, the International Book Festival and the Edinburgh Arts Festival to make the biggest annual arts extravaganza in the world.

Asked if the global economic crisis had hit the EIF budget, Mills told Reuters: "We haven't found any evidence of it yet.

"It doesn't mean it's not out there and it doesn't mean it's not waiting for us, but we haven't had any evidence of it. Government support is as strong as ever, corporate and other forms of funding are as strong as ever ... and we're about to find out what the box office does."

He told a news conference at the festival launch that income from sponsorship and donations was running at 2.15 million pounds ($3.13 million), up more than 20 percent from 2008, while public sector support topped five million pounds.


The international festival was founded in 1947 to brighten the dark days of austerity after World War Two.   Continued...

<p>Edinburgh International Festival director Jonathan Mills (L) stands behind plastic sheeting as graffiti artist Aga sprays paints round his body during a photocall to launch the 62nd festival programme in Edinburgh, Scotland April 2, 2008. REUTERS/David Moir</p>