HOW is your Edinburgh festival experience going then? Mine has been a blast, thanks for asking. I’ve seen a lot of good comedy - Susie McCabe and the Toms Ballard and Stade - taken in Jack Docherty’s really rather moving autobiographical show Bowie and Me: Parallel Lives at Gilded Balloon and spotted Graham Norton and Cheryl Baker at the Pleasance Courtyard, making their minds up about what to see, presumably. (There are not enough Bucks Fizz references in The Herald as a rule; this is my small effort to change that.)

I haven’t dipped into the International Festival yet, but I have tickets to see Alison Goldfrapp and Pina Bausch’s The Rite of Spring later in the month. And I’m hoping I can catch something at both the film and book festivals when they kick off too.

Given the crowds filling the Royal Mile and the Meadows the last few days, I’m clearly not the only one.

Is this a good thing? Sometimes you could be forgiven for wondering. There’s a tendency in the coverage of the various festivals on the news pages to look for any downsides. And there is no question that they are there. That Edinburgh in August comes with collateral is not up for debate, especially for those who live in the city; overcrowding, noise, traffic, overflowing bins, the general pressure on the urban infrastructure, etc, etc.

But that has to be weighed up against the benefits, economic, social and, if you want to be poncy about it, spiritual.

According to recent independent research from BOP Consulting, last year the various festivals were worth nearly £407 million to the city’s economy, and £367m to the wider Scottish economy. As well as supporting thousands of jobs and driving tourism, on a base level the maths of this are quite simple. For the £11m or so the festivals receive in public sector investment the reward is substantial. For every £1 of public money invested there is a return of £33.

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That seems like public money well spent. And yet, despite this, there are real fears for the future of the world’s largest arts festival. I spoke to Nicola Benedetti on the eve of the start of her first Edinburgh International Festival as director last Friday. And whilst keen to recognise that all of the pillars of civic society in the UK are under threat at the moment, she said we were right to be worried about the festival’s future.

For anyone who loves the arts, that chimes ominously with the Fringe’s chief executive Shona McCarthy’s suggestion earlier this year that the Fringe faces an “existential threat.” Both argue that more financial support is needed.

This is clearly at odds with the recent warning from the Scottish Government’s Culture Minister Christina McKelvie who said that the various festivals will need to develop more “resilient” sources of income as the pressures on the Government’s budget grow.

That things are hard and money is tight will be news to no one right now. We can look around and see every area of public life, from mental health care to transport, from the NHS to your local swimming pool, struggling with the legacy of austerity politics and the cost of living crisis.

But what do we risk losing if we don’t support the Edinburgh festivals? More than just their economic benefits, I would suggest.

Let’s try a thought experiment. Imagine Edinburgh in August without the festivals. Imagine the city without the crowds, the flyers, the posters, the noise.

There will be some who can imagine nothing better, I expect. But surely Edinburgh in August is when the city is at its most alive. When you can feel its beating heart. Yes, it’s noisy and gaudy and full of itself. But it’s also fun.

If the festivals were to disappear tourists would still come. For the history and for Harry Potter.

But Edinburgh wouldn’t matter in the same way it does. And as a result neither would Scotland. For these few weeks in August, Edinburgh and, as a result, the country, are heard around the world. Do we really want to lose that voice?