FROM the fifth floor eyrie where I am billetted for the duration of the Edinburgh Festival, I look down onto a number of studio rooms and apartments much like my own, although mine is perhaps at the bijou end of the market. It is an environment rather different from being in a hotel or guest house, as has been the case in previous years, and altogether more suitable for a working chap, even if everyone at our Glasgow office will assuredly ask me if I have had a good holiday when I return there. What I see out of my window are lots of people sitting at laptops like the one on which I am writing this, tapping away at their keyboards. Without being overtly nosey, I can tell they are not playing Resident Evil 7, nor are they watching either Netflix, or a couple in Glasgow, Rockbridge, Virginia demonstrating an unusual approach to intimacy. My neighbours are all working, like me. I know none of them of course, but it has been nice to feel part of a sort of amorphous community, and somehow more so than you ever do with the other folk taking up shelf-space with their Macbooks in the capital's coffee shops, or in corners of some of the Fringe super-venues.

There is a lot of money in Edinburgh at this time of year, and it appears that more of it is American money, doubtless helped by an exchange rate that may well not have been quite so helpful to programmers and promoters paying bills in dollars. It was very canny of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland to bring a new two-part musical about Scots emigration to the USA to the Fringe this year, particularly in partnership with a university in Chicago, but we gave the show Atlantic a Herald Angel award at the Festival Theatre last Saturday because of the quality of the score, staging and performances, not to recognise business acumen. Nonetheless, there is no getting away from the importance to the Scottish economy of the Festival and Fringe; a study published last year estimated it at over £300m and that figure will only have increased. At the same time, however, government funding of the arts is decreasing in real terms, albeit more slowly in Scotland than south of the border. There is a certain fatalism about this among Scottish arts companies that now runs pretty deep – a feeling that we're not doing too badly so we should just wheesht and be grateful. The major figures in the sector tend to talk of new funding pathways that avoid reliance on state support. The Festival is very good at cultivating its wealthy friends in the city but has also encouraged talk of a small levy on Edinburgh accommodation that could potentially be a cash cow. When someone pointed out on social media this past week that a budget hotel chain was charging £260 a night for a room, and asked what possible deterrent £261 would be to a potential tourist, Festival director Fergus Linehan was quick to pass that insight on to his followers on the same platform.

A major difficulty with that line of argument is that much accommodation in Edinburgh in August is not occupied by tourists spending holiday money, but by people working, and on a budget that may indeed operate to hairline tolerances. There may be fewer professional journalists in town these days because the London media will not pay for their staff and stringers to be here, but there is whole industry of promoters and producers, performers and publicists who are essential to the temporary cash-generating infrastructure that is Edinburgh in August. Although I will assure anyone that this is the finest festival city in the world and the place to be, I can also see that taxing attendance might well make people look elsewhere to pursue their cultural business. Looking out my window, it is not hard to differentiate between the tourists and the working people, but that would be a practically difficult distinction to make when welcome visitors are checking in for three weeks.

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