Edinburgh festival seeks crucial support and investment from its audience
Edinburgh's Hidden Door festival has today announced a funding drive aimed at raising £80,000, which might put the immediate future of the festival in doubt should it not be raised. 'We've always tried to pay our own way, raising the required revenue through ticket sales, bar sales and a bit of fundraising,' says David Martin, the festival's director. 'We've had to take risks and leaps of faith to make it happen, and this year I think we finally delivered Hidden Door in a way that showed its full potential. But this has come at a cost.'
He cites the expense of large-scale artists such as 2018 headliners Young Fathers, combined with smaller-than-expected attendances at events through the week, as creating an income imbalance which has been difficult to absorb. As of 2018, Hidden Door has achieved a widespread degree of respect and affection in Edinburgh; where previous events have used sites earmarked for property development to create ad hoc, ten-day gig, theatre and art spaces – occasionally raising doubts among anti-gentrification campaigners – since 2017 the event has been held at Leith Theatre, and has played a significant part in the historic venue's revival to the point that Edinburgh International Festival are using it this month for the Light on the Shore series.
Pointing out that ten pounds from everyone who experienced the volunteer-led Hidden Door last year would clear the required funding amount, Martin says that the organisers also want to take this chance to set up a Supporters' Scheme, offering access to exclusive events, behind-the-scenes discussions, parties, a monthly podcast and a sneak peek at future possible venues.
'There are some great empty spaces in the city that we have on our radar,' he says. 'Another cinema, a beautiful church building, an old primary school... but we can't get any further with securing permission to use any of them until we've raised money for the future. We celebrate the lives of buildings in the city for however long we can get access to them, and we know there's an appetite in Edinburgh for exciting live music and for immersive experiences, audiences here are very adventurous.'
As anyone who enjoyed the unique experience of discovering Hidden Door for the first time will confirm, it has indeed brought something different to Edinburgh, and in areas where it's not typically known for culture. '(To lose Hidden Door) would be a huge blow for the growing perception of Edinburgh as a 'creative city', not just a one-month wonder (in August),' says Martin. 'There need to be more opportunities for experimentation and the creation of new work, and for audiences to engage with it, not less. If we don't make the target we won't be able to do a Hidden Door 2019, but we will spend the year working furiously hard to make up the amount, then come back with a vengeance in 2020. Hidden Door will not fold – it may just become a lot more hidden for a while.'
For more info visit savehiddendoor.com.