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Ten Years of Expo: Scottish Government's Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund: Mapping a decade of development

Research output: Book/ReportOther report

Original languageEnglish
PublisherEdinburgh Festival City
Number of pages29
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018


The Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund was created in 2007 to increase the funding available to Scottish artists and practitioners, encourage creative collaborations and help maintain the Festivals' global competitive edge. The first new works supported by the fund were premiered in 2008, so the 2018 Edinburgh Festivals season marks its 10th anniversary. This Report examines the impact of the Expo Fund over its ten years and shows that it has:  resulted in over 550 new commissions, at least 11,000 performances/ events, and attracted audiences of over 5 million  supported on average over 1,000 additional performances/events each year, revealing the substantial role the Expo Fund has played in boosting Scotland’s innovative cultural content  invested 88% of all funding for the benefit of Scotland-based creative professionals and the production/promotion of their work, illustrating how the Expo Fund is an efficient way to increase the funding available to Scottish artists and practitioners alongside international profile  delivered 20% of activities in schools and communities, highlighting that while the primary objective is talent and career development, there are also significant local participation and audience development benefits  generated average annual audience of over 500,000 for Expo-Funded work - a substantial achievement when noting that the Festivals’ collective annual audience is c4.6 million - illustrating the strength of Edinburgh’s Festivals as platforms to connect artists with audiences Further analysis within the Report identifies 8 primary outcomes delivered by the Expo Fund around developing talent and encouraging collaborative innovation in international contexts:  Developing and sustaining creative careers in Scotland  Providing new opportunities for creatives on international platforms  Fostering innovation and experimentation in production and delivery  Connecting new audiences with Scottish talent and work  Increasing national and international exposure for Scottish culture  Expanding international markets for creatives in Scotland  Strengthening creative reputations for individuals, organisations & festivals Enhancing leadership of festivals in national and international projects The effect of each outcome is further revealed through a series of case studies:  “The EXPO experience was quite life-changing for me, because it kind of gave me a sense of credibility.” Raisah Ahmed  “It really is necessary for these EXPO commissions to happen in order to push the sector forward.” Dennis and Debbie Club While the results of Expo Fund investments are impressive, the report also highlights a number of areas of operation that could be further enhanced:  longer lead times for allocation of funding would improve the scope of what Expo projects can achieve  longer term visibility of a forward Expo Fund commitment would allow multi-year opportunities to be developed  and an evaluation approach that enabled follow up over a longer period would be valuable to capture deeper outcomes The Report concludes that the success of the Expo Fund in both developing Scottish cultural talent and Edinburgh’s world-leading festival platforms is down to the alignment of three crucial factors:  the efficiency of the Expo fund as a means of investing in Scottish creative practitioners through the major festival platforms  the powerful brand associations of staging Expo projects in the festivals’ core international programmes  the market access offered to creatives in showcasing Expo projects to an international audience As the Festivals Expo Fund enters its second decade, eligibility has expanded to build on the model’s success by including the international platforms offered by Celtic Connections and Glasgow International. To ensure maximum benefits as the structure of the fund evolves, it would appear to be critical that these three factors are secured, developed and used as guiding principles in order to open up more international opportunities for cultural talent across Scotland.

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