@ James Christie

The Edinburgh International Festival has finished, boo.  Viva EIF 2011, yay!

The monocyclers have pedaled off to the train station; the hoardings, venues and posters are being pulled down, and the restaurants, hotels and cafés have tumbleweed whistling through their corridors.

“If we had the Festival all year round, I’d be able to retire to Ibiza in a few year” said one taxi driver.

With the help of Leith FM’s sparkly new arts and culture blog, the Edinburgh International Festival has smashed box-office records (he he).

A record 50% of buyers came from Edinburgh post codes, and more than half the entire city shared the fireworks experience (250,000), from under- to over-privileged Edinburgensians, to al flagrante breast-feeding mums and al fragrante zimmer-toting aulds.

The blog is an offshoot of the arts and culture radio show on Edinburgh’s local community radio station, Leith FM 98.8.  It has been praised by the likes of Lesley Riddoch (“excellent”), the Guardian (“inspired”) and EIF (“brilliant”).

“I definitely think we should continue,” said Annabel Cooper, presenter.  “There is a real gap in the market for some down-to-earth reporting.”

The Edinburgh International Festival tickets is such good value for money.

“Once you get your student, unemployed, YoungScot or OAP concessions, you can score a ticket for as little as £6,” said Andrew Moir, presenter.  “That’s a far better deal than the Fringe can offer, except for Free Fringe events of course.”

Commentators have questioned the professionalism and abilities of the huge upsurge in amateur bloggers.  “Who is reviewing the reviewers”, asked the Guardian theatre blogger Bella Todd.

“The vast majority of the audience don’t have PHds in the Arts and neither do we,” said Jonathan Hartley, presenter.  “We are grassroots, up-and-coming journalists who know how difficult it is to part with cash.  The professionals might say it’s a great play for its artistic merits or because they are embedded with the luvvies.  But is it actually enjoyable?  That’s what we go for.”

With the threatened cuts coming upstream for the Festivals, the Leith Tonight team decided to take a stand.

“The International Festival is like international football,” said Fin, guru and visionary behind the arts and culture radio show and blog.

“Every other day, you watch local teams battling it out on the pitch.  Once in a blue moon, you get to see  international teams like AC Milan or Barcelona play on your own home turf.”

“The International Festival director, Jonathan Mills, scours the entire globe for the cutting-edge excellence in dance, theatre, opera and  music and brings them home to Edinburgh for us to savour.

“And you can still get change from a tenner.”

The EIF achieved the highest ticket sales income in its 62-year history, with more than £2.67 million taken at the box office, representing 3% more than last year.

“We’ve had a successful year financially, which is fantastic, but what is more important, I believe, is that we have more than measured up to our name,” said director Jonathan Mills.

Economic & Social Impact

Edinburgh’s population is over 450,000, but that figure swells to well over 1 million during its famous festivals in August.  The Edinburgh Festivals 2004-5 Economic Impact Survey estimates that the Edinburgh summer festivals generate £126.5m for Edinburgh, support 2,500 jobs, and contribute £134.7m for Scotland as a whole.

Edinburgh was voted 10th in the world’s top cities; 13th in the list of the cities with the most vibrant culture, and 19th in a list of cities with the best quality of life.  Edinburgh International Festival came third in the Best Festival Cities, pipped to the post for first place by the Rio Carnival and Womad music festival.

For every £1 the public purse invests in the Festivals, they deliver a £60 return to Scotland.

That’s the cheapest way to make Edinburgh the fun and international place it is.  And what’s more, you get to feed your soul.  That’s more than straight tourism investment could ever achieve.

Leith Tonight Awards

In time-honoured fashion, Leith Tonight is handing out the LeithTonight Awards for the top experiences  during the Festivals.

Popescu

Hottest Male Artist Award goes to falsetto singer and mass murderer, Adrian George Popescu who played the role of Cortes in the critic-slated but LeithTonight-adored opera, Montezuma.  Popescu flashed the first operatic male penis ever witnessed by the Leith team during a particularly debauched love scene and fond memories have been regularly revived ever since.

Hottest Female Artist Award goes to No Fit State‘s high-heeled tight-rope walker who rolled a joint and showered while performing some spectacular balancing activities.

Friendliest Audience Award goes to all the lovely greys at Purcell’s Indian Queen for their enthusiastic chat and inquisitive nature.

We will be back regularly throughout the year.

© Fin Wycherley

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