Scottish Labour has echoed calls from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for a “crisis summit” on the future of the country’s festivals.

The party claimed the SNP were "standing idly by" while events were collapsing due to a lack of support. 

Over the weekend, Shona McCarthy, the Chief Executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society described the current level of Scottish Government support for what is the world’s largest arts festival, as a “national embarrassment."

Her comments follow the scrapping of this year's Aye Write festival after Creative Scotland rejected an application for a £77,500 grant.

READ MORE: Aye Write book festival cancelled after rejected funding bid

MSPs are due to debate Scotland’s international culture strategy this afternoon.

Scottish Labour’s culture spokesman Neil Bibby said: “Scotland’s festival scene is world-famous, but the SNP standing idly by while it collapses.

“We are already seeing the consequences of the SNP-Green government’s disastrous cut to Creative Scotland with the loss of Aye Write, and more could follow if we do not act.

“There must be urgent action to support Scotland’s iconic arts sector and the vast economic, social and cultural benefits it delivers.

“The SNP must urgently convene a crisis summit and develop a plan to save Scotland’s festivals.”

Speaking to the Scotsman, Ms McCarthy said it was becoming “almost impossible” to deliver the Fringe. 

The Fringe Society, which administrates the 77-year-old open access festival, have a financial deficit of around £400,000. They have recently had two applications for financial support rejected by Creative Scotland.

Ms McCarthy called for the Scottish Government to agree an emergency grant of £1 million, and regular core funding of around £250,000 annually from the Scottish Government and £150,000 from the council.

The Herald:

She told the paper: "We’ve been offered a cross-agency meeting but we still don’t have a date for it. I’ve written to everyone setting out the current situation and what the meeting needs to address. It has to lead to a direct solution around investment."

READ MORE: Gail Porter 'priced out' of attending Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Ms McCarthy said the only meaningful support the Fringe had secured in the last year had come from the UK Government, which has agreed to bankroll a new headquarters for the festival and invest in a new support fund for artists.

She said: “When you ask people if they actually want the festival they’ll say: ‘Don’t be ridiculous. The Fringe is absolutely essential to the cultural ecology of Scotland. We recognise how important it is.’

"Yet they’re still prepared to let it fall through the cracks. It is just not sustainable, it is just not tenable and something has to be done about it. We get warm words and sympathetic looks, but what good is that to anyone?”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Despite the challenging financial situation faced by the UK, Scottish Ministers have increased culture sector funding by £15.8m to almost £200m this financial year, as the first step to achieving the First Minister’s commitment to invest at least £100m more annually in culture and the arts by 2028/29.

“We value the significance of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe  - and wider Edinburgh Festivals - and are committed to supporting this world-renowned event.

"In 2023/24 and also in 2022/23, we awarded Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society £550,000 for its Made in Scotland programme.

“We will continue to work with the culture sector to identify barriers to immediate and long-term recovery, and do everything within our limited devolved powers and resources to help those most affected by current economic challenges.”