Curtain Falls on Record-Breaking EIF

The annual fireworks concert lights up EdinburghThe Edinburgh International Festival drew to a close on Sunday (31 August), after a year which has seen record numbers of ticket sales as well as the biggest-selling dance show in the festival’s history, Matthew Bourne’s Dorian Gray (See News, 22 Aug 2008).

Ticket sales at this year’s festival reached a total of £2.6m, an increase of 7% on last year’s figure, bolstered by the fact that one in three shows sold all available tickets. The figures are in sharp contrast to the fortunes of the Fringe festival, which saw its ticket sales fall by 10% this year, leading to the resignation of director Jon Morgan (See News, 28 Aug 2008).

The winners of this year’s Edinburgh International Festival Award were also announced over the weekend. The prize, which awards £5000 to a company performing at the Fringe festival to develop a workshop performance for next year’s EIF, went to York-based collective Belt Up (Nothing to See/Hear). Set up in 2007, producing new writing, established texts, adaptations and installation pieces in venues across the UK, Belt Up presented The Red Room at this year’s Fringe – a combination of theatre and music at their custom-made ‘burlesque boudoir’ in the C Venues. EIF director Jonathan Mills said of the award: “There was a very strong shortlist but Belt Up (nothing to see/hear) stood out. The Red Room is a very interesting concept and this young collective have theatrical integrity and passion.”

The end of the festival was marked with the now customary Bank of Scotland fireworks concert, seen this year by an estimated 250,000 people across the Scottish capital. Music was provided by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, who performed pieces by Brahms’ and Dvořák as the spectacular pyrotechnics lit up the Edinburgh night sky. Reflecting on the success of the festival, Jonathan Mills’ said: “I hope people have enjoyed the journey we have been on together and I extend an invitation to join us again in 2009 for a very different Festival.”

- by Theo Bosanquet

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