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Tattoo revamp paves way for festivals to move into the castle


A NEW grandstand planned for the Edinburgh Military Tattoo could clear the way for other festivals to use the prime space of the Castle Esplanade, it emerged yesterday.

The Tattoo producer, Major-General Euan Loudon, has been in early talks about ways of using the site with Jonathan Mills, the director of the Edinburgh International Festival (EIF). The idea emerged yesterday in a public discussions on the future of the festivals.

The Tattoo uses a seating structure whose design dates back to the 1972 Munich Olympics. It takes several months to put up and slightly less time to dismantle. By 2010, however, the Tattoo hopes to have a modern, commercially-designed system that could go up and come down far faster.

"The place that the event takes place in is not used a great deal at other times of the year," said Maj-Gen Loudon. "Jonathan and I have talked a little bit about where there might be space to go in that direction."

The Tattoo leases the Esplanade from Historic Scotland. But if the Tattoo could move out of the space faster, it could bring more flexibility for the Festival.

"There are many ideas being discussed," an EIF spokesman said yesterday. "Because the festivals are in constant touch with each other, we discuss ideas and possibilities. We are just talking about a possible space."

Mr Mills, whose first Festival has sold out in many performances, said it was "clashes" and "chaos" that made the Edinburgh festivals so appealing.

"What gets this Festival its particular following, is this bit of chaos," he said. "I don't want people to come to my Festival and love every single bit of it; I want them to feel provoked."

The visual-art strand of the EIF, which he reintroduced for the first time in 15 years, will continue and develop, he said.

This year has seen several new directors finding their way in the riotous festival season. Catherine Lockerbie, the director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, said the festivals needed to work together more closely on issues such as infrastructure and marketing. There needed to be strategic investment in transport, the cost and condition of venues, and whether the city felt properly prepared for festival.

Maj-Gen Loudon, new in the post this year, said the Tattoo was looking outside the UK more for military bands but said he would also consider introducing youth or choral acts into the event.

Hannah McGill, the director of the Edinburgh International Film Festival, defended the decision to move her event to June from next year. "It's to do with the logistics of Edinburgh in August," she said. "If you are bringing 100 people for a conference, it's very hard to find affordable beds for them."

Ms McGill said she hoped to increase the number of discussion events around films and stressed that she would maintain an August presence. It was not just a question of showing more films, she said.

Jon Morgan, director of the Festival Fringe, said marketing and accommodation were major issues, though its younger audience were happy to use temporary accommodation.



SCOTTISH Opera was invited to join the Edinburgh International Festival this year, but the price tag for the production ruled it out, the festival director Jonathan Mills revealed yesterday.


It would have cost 200,000 more than the undisclosed price of bringing a German opera company to Edinburgh.

Cologne Opera's Capriccio is showing this week as a highlight of the EIF's final days.

Scottish Opera is now on course to join the festival in 2008. It could benefit from the Scottish Executive's pledge of a 2 million fund to support Scottish work.

Scottish Opera's restructuring has left it relying on freelance work, including its chorus, said Mr Mills. "They are not in a situation where we can afford to work with them at the moment."

Alex Reedijk, the company's general director, said timing was probably wrong in 2007.

With he and Mr Mills new in their jobs, he said: "We both felt there probably wasn't enough time to pull a project off."




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