This week editor Rob Alderson extolls the virtues of the UK’s most creative city. As ever you can add your thoughts using the thread below…
Where is the most creative place in the UK? Many would say London, immediately and unthinkingly; many of them would be more specific still and flag up east London in particular. Some would bang the drum for their own cities – for Manchester, Brighton, Leeds, Birmingham, Glasgow etc. But don’t worry everyone because I’ve got the definitive answer for you – the most creative city in the British Isles is… Edinburgh (in August).
Ah yes, those parentheses. Truth is I can’t vouch for Edinburgh the other 11 months of the year but having made my sixth trip to the Fringe Festival earlier this month, I am certain that in terms of concentrated creative energy, Edinburgh is nigh on unbeatable.
There’s comedy of course – at times a bewildering amount of “hilarious” “must-see” “Five Stars!” promises to take in. But there’s also music, art, spoken word, theatre, cabaret and the Book Festival that overlaps with the main event. It’s not just galleries, theatres and performance spaces that have packed programmes for the month, but pubs, cafes, bars, church halls, social clubs, courtyards and any other space people can find are pressganged into use as temporary venues.
The amazing thing is that down in this here London, it’s quite possible to spend the month utterly unaware of what’s going on in the Scottish capital. It’s as if we can’t quite conceive of anything so culturally significant taking place anywhere you can’t reach by Tube.
Of course Edinburgh has its issues. Comedy in particular has become big business and there has been over recent years a perceptible commercialisation pushing the big TV acts centre stage (excuse the pun). There are also issues around the number of shows taken to the Fringe and the lack of quality control exercised by some venues and promoters. But surely that is a price worth paying?
Edinburgh in August is intoxicating (and often intoxicated) – where thousands of people who believe enough in their chosen artform give up time and money to pursue some kind of creative goal. There’s genuine risk-taking if you know where to look (or rather where not to look; it’s more ubiquitous than the safely-packaged Live At The Apollo acts and their impressively polished schtick).
So my advice is pretty simple – if you’ve never been to the Edinburgh Festival, make it one of your 2014 resolutions. Nobody interested in creativity could fail to fall in love with it.