And finally… Edinburgh festival artists seek dollars and euros as pound tanks
Uncertainty around Brexit has resulted in performers at the Edinburgh International Festival to ask for their fees to be paid in euros or US dollars instead of sterling, the event’s director has said.
Last month, the pound fell to its lowest value since 2017, and became the world’s worst performing currency. It is currently trading at $1.21, or €1.09.
Event director Fergus Linehan said organisers had taken the decision around November last year to hedge £1m – locking it into a particular exchange rate to protect against future fluctuations – to guarantee artists’ fees.
He said that the UK’s impending exit from the European Union meant that many of the artists engaged for this year’s festival, which began last weekend, had requested to be paid in euros or dollars.
This year, nearly 3,000 performers will take part in EIF, hailing from 41 countries including Australia, Nigeria, China, Germany, Holland and India.
Linehan told The Times newspaper that he believed he would not have been able to secure his present line-up if he had agreed only to pay performers in sterling.
“We’d definitely have people say they just weren’t coming,” he said.
“This is really hard on us because all our ticket sales are in pounds, all our funding is in pounds, most of our donations are in pounds. So it is a pain.”
Linehan said that the unstable pound meant that staging the festival had become more expensive at a time when public funding for the event was being cut, saying that the EIF “would be in a very bad way now” if it had not hedged about £1 million several months ago, with an increasingly weak pound.
“There is a cost attached to hedging and we’ve also got this very low currency level at the moment, which doesn’t seem to be going anywhere but down,” he said.
“It’s not so much individual artists who are very expensive,” said Linehan. “It’s more about the scale of ambition which is obviously dented at a certain point. Every [extra cost] slices another bit of potential away”, he added.