Faith in Our Festivals; Director of Festivals Edinburgh on Hard Work Going on Behind Scenes to Ensure That City Remains Top of Table

Article excerpt

Byline: Victoria Masterson

IT'S festival time all year round for Faith Liddell.

As director of Festivals Edinburgh, her job is to drive the joint development and promotion of Edinburgh's 12 major festivals to ensure Scotland's capital retains its crown as the world's number one festival city.

"I'm living my professional life at the heart of the world's leading festival city," Liddell says of her job.

"I get to keep company with the depth of talented and committed people that run our festivals - the artistic directors, chief executives and people in the various teams across everything they do - programming, marketing, education and communication.

"And I get to support one of the most enduring and important things, which is the connection between the great Scottish and international artists, entertainers and audiences both here and around the world.

"I'm doing a job I could never even have imagined when I was at school and I do feel deeply privileged and inspired every day."

Festivals Edinburgh was set up in 2007 by the directors of Edinburgh's 12 major festivals: Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh Festival Fringe and Edinburgh International Film Festival (all founded in 1947); Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo (1950); Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival (1978); Edinburgh International Book Festival (1983); Edinburgh International Science Festival (1988); Scottish International Storytelling Festival and Imaginate Festival (both 1990); Edinburgh's Hogmanay (1994); Edinburgh Mela (1995) and the Edinburgh Art Festival (2004).

A key catalyst was a report called Thundering Hooves (metaphorically named after the sound of the competition catching up with Edinburgh), which warned the city not to become too complacent.

Liddell said: "Our fundamental aim is to maintain Edinburgh's pre-eminence as the world's leading festival destination.

"Thundering Hooves found that in the short term we were in a very strong position, but were less secure when viewed against the sustained development of some of the actively competitive cities over the next five to seven years."

AIN " Festivals Edinburgh responds to this by driving collaborative approaches in four areas - programmers, marketing, innovation and environmental sustainability.

NEWS.

She said: "We have eight staff who are all project funded and predominantly work with the festivals to develop ideas and approaches, for example around London 2012 and Glasgow 2014. "Using the festivals to enhance diplomatic relations and new opportunities is an important theme and we're working with the British Council and Creative Scotland to bring in about 150 leading cultural and political figures for the third year.

"Initially the key countries we worked with were India, South Africa and Brazil.

"This year we're working with another four Latin American countries as well as Nigeria, Pakistan and the Caribbean - so it's about building relations with the wider community, not just the festivals, and creating opportunities for the whole of Scotland."

Other work strands include building relations with international travel and lifestyle journalists, promoting new work and innovation through initiatives such as the Edinburgh Festivals Innovation Lab and working with venues to help them reduce their carbon emissions.

One of the major things Festivals Edinburgh has done is an impact evaluation of the city's key festivals.

She said: "The numbers are pretty impressive.

"The festivals generate PS261m of economic impact for Scotland and employ 5,242 full time jobs. According to EventScotland that's bigger than the impact of golf tourism.

" I don't think there's anywhere else in the world where you have 25,000 artists and producers converging at the same time. That brings remarkable vibrancy in terms of tourism and helps to extend the season. …