By Andrew Kerr, Chief Executive, The City of Edinburgh Council
I’ve just seen Edinburgh deliver its annual August programme of fantastic Festival activity as well as host the International Cultural Summit, which has prompted me to reflect on the importance of culture and how it connects us to European and international cities and within networks such as EUROCITIES.
Edinburgh is internationally renowned for its Festivals, dating back to 1947. This August, the Festival welcomed 2,442 artists from 36 nations to perform in Scotland’s capital city. Each year over 1,000 shows per day attract an audience of over 4.5 million. The City Council is well aware that the Festivals are a major contributor to both the local Edinburgh economy and the national Scottish economy, generating over £313 million for the Scottish economy and creating the equivalent of 6,021 full-time jobs each year.
In 2017 Edinburgh will celebrate 70 years of being an international festival city. For me, it is an opportunity to think about culture and the role it can play in building stronger ties between cities and nations. It is also worth considering culture’s contribution to improving economic growth, social cohesion and quality of life. To thrive, cities need creativity, collaboration and international connections to enrich the quality of life of their citizens and to secure their future prosperity.
Arts and culture drive the creative industries and support the economic growth of our cities. They animate our streets, bring business to our cities, and create wealth for our countries. Arts and culture facilitate trade, business, and diplomacy by starting conversations, allowing us to engage with difficult issues, and helping us to build trust. This all allows relationships and understanding to follow.
Edinburgh is proud to have been a member of EUROCITIES for 25 years and I personally have been involved in the network before coming to Edinburgh, in my previous work with other UK cities and know the value of membership. Edinburgh values the international connectedness that the network offers and acknowledges the importance of partnership working and the continued need to work together and collaborate as cities, across Europe.