Better Representation at the Edinburgh International Festival

Better Representation at the Edinburgh International Festival

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Anon Anon started this petition to Edinburgh International Festival

A recent tweet emerged highlighting that the Edinburgh International Festival programmed almost 90% of it's 2020 digital work, by white artists and creatives. Not only is this number testament to an arts world ravaged by institutional racism, but highlights a shocking lack of insight at a moment when Black Lives Matter has shone a light on the white supremacy eroding, silencing and murdering the voices of Black people the world over.

Not only did this tweet highlight the shocking lack of representation of artists of colour, but the programme supported almost twice the number of men to women, and involved no D/deaf or disabled artists or creatives. At a moment in time when COVID-19 has seen those most marginalised people losing their lives at a higher rate than anyone else, and as the arts crumbles under the weight of a global pandemic, this year's EIF could have provided those most silenced voices with a platform to be heard. In light of BLM it seems shocking this has not happened.

We are yet to see how the arts world will recover, but by providing a platform to white male voices, EIF are ensuring their survival into the future of the sector, whilst others are left facing the possibility of never working in the arts again. Moving the festival online was an opportunity for EIF to ensure a more representative future for the sector as a whole, and that opportunity has now been lost.

The twitter account shared the emails back and fourth discussing the issues. EIF discussed that they "need to do better" and that they "will review and publicly state our own ambitions, following a thorough process involving our staff, our board and members of our community. We will also review what we currently measure in terms of diversity metrics and create a framework that allows for greater insight, transparency and accountability". This isn't good enough. EIF not reaching out to marginalised communities, or outside of their existing associations is bad practice, and will not ensure a more representative festival is created. Keeping the conversation within the organisation resulted in a pale, stale and male festival in 2020 - there needs to be a change.

As one of the leading arts festivals in the world, which receives more public subsidy than any other festival in Scotland, something radical needs to change. EIF is funded by the people of Scotland, and needs to be representative of the people of Scotland. We are calling on Creative Scotland, Edinburgh City Council and the Scottish Government to ensure the following occurs:

  • EIF hold an open forum for artists, organisations and creatives to provide insight into how they can work more representatively, leading to...
  • EIF providing quantifiable numbers on how they will tackle better representation within their festival, which they will be held accountable to
  • If EIF fail to make positive change, then their funding to be removed and redistributed amongst other arts organisations, artists and festivals
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