Cost of Living Crisis Causes Edinburgh Book Festival to Scale Down
By Charlotte Brook
The cost-of-living crisis continues to take its toll on the book industry as the Edinburgh Book Festival announces it has made the “heartbreaking” decision to scale down.
Although this was the first year since 2019 that the festival was able to run at full capacity, the continued hesitancy of consumers to attend large-scale events and the rising cost of food and energy bills depleting discretionary income for many resulted in the turnout and resulting income for the festival being lower than expected. For example, livestreamed events saw a 40% decrease in income compared to 2019, leading organisers to cut them from the 2023 programme. In addition to this decision, organisers have announced that overall festival costs will be cut by 25% and some of the thirty-two full-time staff will be made redundant.
In a statement shared with The Bookseller, the organisers said, “All evidence suggests this situation will continue into 2023 and beyond.”
When discussing the planning of the 2023 festival, which will be held 12–28 August 2023, organisers added, “In order to deliver an economically sustainable book festival in 2023, the scale of the operation will be reduced, including cutting expenditure across all areas of the organization and revising the delivery of the festival itself.”
They stressed that this conclusion has “required some tough decisions, most heartbreakingly the resizing of the incredibly talented team behind the festival and charity’s work, and pausing our streaming activity, which has been such a success in opening up the festival but costs a considerable amount and is unaffordable in the current climate.”
Audiences can still expect a diverse programme that includes author talks, insights with industry professionals for publishing hopefuls, creative workshops and the introduction of a host of new books. The Edinburgh Book Festival Charity continues to run the Baillie Gifford Children’s Programme, which hosts free events for young people, reaching around 20,000 individuals each year. The Charity also have an extensive school’s programme to encourage primary and secondary school pupils to read.
If you want to support the Book Festival Charity, you can donate directly or purchase from their independent booksellers where all proceeds are invested back into running the festival.