Despite another successful season when record numbers of reporters and journalists visited the Edinburgh Festival, it has been announced that the festival is to move to Manchester next year to assist the BBC’s economy drive. From 2011, Manchester’s Edinburgh Festival will offer all the shows, fun and thrills of the old event without the need for anyone having to suffer the cost and inconvenience of travelling all the way to the Scottish capital.
'Why Manchester? That’s a very good question,’ said Claudia Monteiro, the festival’s media Relations Officer. ‘We have to be mindful of the current economic constraints and as the BBC are our biggest customer, we decided, not entirely reluctantly, to relocate to the city that the BBC has chosen to move a significant proportion of their output.’
The news comes as analysts have criticised the BBC for their insistence on broadcasting virtually every show in their schedule from Edinburgh, and confirm that the costs of supporting the Edinburgh Festival have been astronomical this year. ‘We appreciate some shows such as Ready Steady Cook Haggis are essential, but it is questionable if there was any real need to relocate Eastenders to Craigmiller for a week,’ said a report issued yesterday. ‘We also fail to understand why the BBC books 90% of the available seats for each show. It leaves very little room for satellite broadcasters or newspapers to get a look in.’
BBC Director General, Mark Thompson, defended the move to Manchester. ‘It is unfair to accuse the corporation of overspending on the Festival. We have always been most cautious on our expenditure. I live and breathe thrift on behalf of licence payers. Only last week, I travelled to Edinburgh on the BBC’s private jet to avoid a night in an expensive hotel.’
Most performers appear to be understanding of the need to move south. ‘It makes perfect sense as the festival only exists for the media types and we have to ensure they are exclusively catered for,’ said controversial comedian Stewart Lee. ‘On the second evening a member of the public broke through the security cordon and got as far as the auditorium, but we spotted him sitting there without an notepad or i-phone and threw the bastard out. I’d like to think that was an isolated incident.’