Daily Archives: September 9, 2012


Edinburgh Festival vs Olympics

19,000 athletes took part in the Olympics and Paralympics. 25,000 artists, performers and speakers participate – every August, in the Edinburgh Festivals. Total audience numbers for all Olympic venues across the UK were 8 million. Total audience numbers for the Edinburgh Festivals, every August, are 4.2 million. Crammed into an area not substantially bigger the the Olympic Park.

Total gross taxpayer subsidy for the Olympics was north of £12 billion. £12,000,000,000. Total gross taxpayer subsidy for the Edinburgh Festivals is south of £3 million. £3,000,000.

The Edinburgh Festivals every year bring a net inflow of 105,000 tourists to the UK who would not otherwise have come. By contrast the Olympics brought a net decrease in the number of tourists visiting the UK, not yet calculated exactly but likely to be around 200,000.

Yet the crazed doom-mongers of the security industry have not yet got hold of the Edinburgh Festival. There are no anti-aircraft missiles on blocks of flats in West Pilton, no frigates lurking in the Firth of Forth, no commandoes in motorised dinghies patrolling the Water of Leith. You can enter the King’s Theatre without a soldier rummaging through the pantie liners in your handbag. You don’t get a full body scan at the Usher Hall. Half the road lanes are not closed off for the use of very, very important bureaucrats. Small shopkeepers are not prosecuted for displaying Festival symbols.

And the fireworks are better. A lot better.

{Edinburgh’s summer festivals include the Edinburgh International Festival, the Fringe, the Film, Book, Television and Science Festivals. I missed some).

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