This year will see the Edinburgh Festivals celebrate our 70th anniversary, a remarkable achievement in a world where cultural trends seem to have an increasingly short shelf life. What has sustained the Festivals is an entrepreneurial spirit that sees them re-invented each year with a vast array of premieres, commissions and performances that are the envy of cities around the globe.
So looking ahead to 2050 – which will come three years after our 100th anniversary – what would we hope to see in our festival city of the future?
Public Realm Revolution: the digital world will continue its rapid evolution but with it will come an increasing desire for communal live events and Edinburgh’s public realm needs to become flexible ‘plug and play’ digital spaces capable of inspiring audiences with cutting edge work.
Architectural Legacy: previous generations have left us with a rich architectural landscape and it is surely our duty to leave such a legacy for future generations through the development of an iconic landscape of new cultural venues that reflect the international ambition of the city.
Owned by Everyone: the Edinburgh Household Survey shows the Festivals are people’s number one cultural activity, but we also know that some don’t feel the festivals are for them – and by 2050 we want this to change so that everyone feels part of festivals family and are touched by them in a meaningful way.
Part of everyday school life: building on our existing education programmes, it is our ambition that by 2050 the Festivals are recognised as a key educational asset in the city and fully integrated in to the academic year adding to children’s creativity, knowledge and confidence.
Seamless Tourism: as technology develops so will tourist expectations for a seamless journey from arrival to departure encompassing all facets of the city, meaning that a citywide SMART Tourism programme that evolves from current university and IT sector expertise will be crucial to the world class visitor experience
A Large Festivals Collider: using the example of the Large Hadron Collider as the largest experimental facility ever built, we want Edinburgh to be seen the centre of collisions between culture and technology and the Festivals Collider as the default laboratory for international experiments.
A Green Festival City: the festivals will lead the drive to develop Edinburgh as the Green Festival City through deep rooted change in core practices and environmental-related programming, building on our spin-off company Creative Carbon Scotland.
Location of Choice: through a prioritisation of culture and creativity across all aspects of city development, it is our hope that by 2050 Edinburgh will be seen as the destination of choice for people and businesses that want the quality of life to take precedence over the quantity of work.
Edinburgh is a small city but its festivals put it onto the world stage. The journey to 2050 is about capitalising on that reputation and advantage. Some of this requires investment, some of it is about enhanced ambition but mostly it is about attitudinal shifts. To do this we must step up and look outwards, confident and bold in the ambition to take our city forward by putting culture at the heart of our success.