The Edinburgh International Festival has closed with box office income down 3% from last year, in the face of a slightly smaller programme on an Asian-influenced theme which organisers acknowledged was “challenging”.
The festival’s initial box office estimate is £2.58 million, down from £2.67 million in 2010. All performing arts productions are finished, with the visual art exhibition by Hiroshi Sugimoto continuing until the end of the month. A festival spokesman pointed out that there were fewer seats available at this year’s staged events, adding that the festival is waiting until all figures are in before releasing total ticket take-up. The spokesman emphasised that the festival has balanced its budget this year.
Jonathan Mills, Edinburgh International Festival director said: “This was a challenging Festival, one that asked audiences to take a risk and to join us on a distinct and remarkable journey. I am pleased that we are where we need to be financially, but I am particularly delighted that there has been such a terrific response to the programme and that shared aspects of our cultures and humanities have been so clear and accessible to festival audiences.”
Although overall figures are not available, audiences of more than 5,000 were reported for both the European Premiere of the National Ballet of China’s Peony Pavilion and the world premiere of the The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. Over 9,700 tickets were issued for the Tim Supple’s new production of One Thousand and One Nights which had its European premiere in Edinburgh.
The festival continued to attract strong foreign interest with audiences from 75 different counties, 2,500 artists from 38 nations and increased diplomatic and media presence from Asian countries. Over a quarter of a million people are estimated to have watched the Virgin Money Fireworks Concert on Sunday night which marked the end of the festival.
Speaking before the figures were announced, Jonathan Mills looked to the challenges of next year’s event which will open shortly after the end of the London Olympics.
He said: “The coincidence of the Olympic Games, and the Commonwealth Games two years later, are massive opportunities for this festival. Some of the things that have been discussed about technical resources and so forth are surely a question for planning. A much bigger issue is that the greatest sporting event and the greatest cultural celebration are in the one place at the one time. And coming from Australia, I do mean the same place. London to Edinburgh is just up the road.”
EIF’s drop in income comes soon after the Edinburgh Festival Fringe announced an increase in the number of tickets it issued for this year’s event – up 2.6%.