ver the past few months. a tale of ambition and intrigue, more passionate than any production on Edinburgh‘s stages, has been playing out in the heart of the city. The plots and subplots built to a dramatic climax earlier this week, when the Edinburgh Festival Council held its December meeting to discuss. among other topics. the future of the main protagonist - Frank Dunlop, now in his eighth year as director ofthe
Dunlop‘s position became uncertain last month when a special meeting of the council decided that his contract would not be renewed after 1991. Some members of the council felt uncomfortable with this because the meeting, although perfectly constitutional, was neither minuted nor fully attended. The council then postponed any formal decision until the matter could be fully discussed.
Eleanor McLaughlin, Edinburgh’s Lord Provost and chairperson of the Festival Council confirmed that Dunlop’s future had been discussed at the meeting held on 17 December. but would not make any further comment.
More is at stake, however, than the director’s contract. Moves were afoot to reduce the
The future of Frank Dunlop as director of the Edinburgh Festival is under threat. Alan Morrison watches as a backstage
must go on.
membership ofthe Festival Council — the policy-making body— from 21 to 12. Ofthese, three seats would be retained by the District Council and would probably fall exclusively to Labour councillors. While it seems reasonable that. with its significant financial commitments to the Festival, the District Council should have a say in its policies, others feared the move could burden the Festival Council with a political rather than artistic bias. The restructure plan was rejected at the November meeting ofthe 152-member Edinburgh Festival Society. With 80 votes for and 68 against, it failed because of a two-thirds majority rule.
Apparently Dunlop angered some Labour councillors by joining the Festival Society on the day of the debate in order to be able to vote against the proposals. He also attracted criticism over his desire to head an all-year-round Festival Theatre at the Empire Theatre on Nicholson Street at the same time as retaining overall control of the summer Festival. A deal to buy the Empire fell through in August, when the district council decided not to buy the building, but discussions are continuing with its owners, Rank.
Dunlop’s years as Festival director have been peppered with a series of wrangles with local councillors over the annual fight to secure adequate funding. Under his leadership. however, the Festival’s finances have been placed on a more secure three-year footing— this was a major achievement in itself, allowing the advance planning that is essential in the increasingly commercial international arts world. He recently presented a three-year business plan to the Scottish Arts Council which he proposed to see through as director until at least 1993.
This year the Festival produced its best box office figures ever, thereby proving to the cynics that Dunlop could not only bring critical successes like Japan’s Ninagawa company to Scotland, he could also give the Festival a popular appeal. Around 76 per cent of available seats were taken, with over 20,000 people attending Kenneth Branagh’s two Shakespeare productions.
The effect of these internal problems on sponsorship and staff morale remains to be seen. Meanwhile, the programming and planning of the 1991 Edinburgh International Festival is already underway. As Frank Dunlop knows only too well from his days as a Broadway producer, the show
I THE FUTURE of Glasgow as one of the world‘s leading arts venues in the years after 1990 has become more realistic with the creation of the new post of Director of Performing Arts. The successful candidate will be expected to programme and promote the District Council’s performing arts policy as well as oversee the maintenance of its buildings.
To a certain extent the post combines the vacant position of Director of Halls and Theatres with the continuing - albeit reduced -work of the Festivals Unit, and this has already led to speculation that the Festivals folce
director, Mr Bob Palmer, would be the stronoest candidate.
I WITH LESS than three weeks to go until Glasgow hands over its cultural crown to Dublin, Councillor Pat Lally, leader of the Labour Group on Glasgow District Council, has added another chapter to the city’s long-running saga of controversy. His rejection of Ian McCulloch’s murals forthe Royal Concert Hall’s Strathclyde Suite has outraged the arts world and brought serious allegations of censorship from the artist. The murals were chosen by a panel of art experts and then gifted by the Regional Council.
4The List 21 December 1990— 10 January 1991
I THE SCOTTISH Arts Council has expressed its disappointment about recent changes in governmental grants which have replaced the SAC's Incentive Funding Scheme with an Enhancement Fund. The Incentive Funding Scheme was to have been devolved from the Arts Council of Great Britain to the SAC beginning in 1991, and the SAC believes that many Scottish arts organisations have now lost out by withholding their applications until the introduction of the Scottish scheme. The Enhancement Fund will be worth 222.5 million over three years.
Some artists paint flowers. I paint what the [70 wer is thinking. Sylvester Stallone reveals the gentle, artistic side of Rambo.
[don't think it was a lemon . . . I think it was an orange.
Julian Spalding, Glasgow‘s director of museums and art galleries on the fruits ofthe city’s investment in the Glasgow’s Glasgow exhibition.
Why should we be dictated to by Second Division clubs whose annual income is less than Rangers" weekly wages bill? Aberdeen FC‘s vice-chairman Ian Donald on plans to restructure the Scottish football leagues.
We are now. . . on the way to a ‘Fourth Reich ', a Reich in which capital is the real ruler sitting at levels of power.
Former East German Communist leader Erich Honecker warns about the united Germany.
Make sure that the innkeeper doesn 't ask for the Poll Tax before he lets Mary and Joseph into thestable.
Edinburgh minister Rev George Grubb‘s advice to those producing a 1990’s nativity play.
Breathing would be nice. Ex-footballer George Best on what he would like to be doing in twenty years‘ time.