The largest survey of residents undertaken in Scotland has found the overwhelming majority of people who live in Edinburgh feel that its festivals make the capital a ‘better place to live’.

However, participation and satisfaction levels for festivals are lower among the unemployed and those in poorer socio-economic groups, those with long-term health problems and disabilities, and among older people, according to the Edinburgh People Survey.

Of over 5,000 people who were polled in the council survey, 66% said they had attended a festival in the city in the last two years, with 72% reporting that its festivals improve the quality of life for residents. However, that figure dropped slightly from 76% in 2017, to 72% in 2018 and has been on a downward curve since 2015.

According to the EPS, 25 to 44-year-olds were the age group with the highest attendance (74%) and 65+ respondents had the lowest (48% had attended). Attendance was also higher among self-employed residents (77%), those working full time (76%) and students (71%). Attendance levels were also lower for unemployed people (38%), and people with a disability or long-term illness (48%).

Those who were most likely to believe that the festivals make Edinburgh a better place were self-employed people (80%), those in full-time employment (75%) students (74%), SEGs (socio-economic groups) A and B (both 79%) and people without a disability (74%).

Unemployed people were less positive, with 52% considering Edinburgh to be a better place and 14% saying the festivals make Edinburgh worse. Retired people (68%) and the oldest respondents (66% of over 65s) were the least likely to say the festivals make Edinburgh better. Those more likely to think festivals made Edinburgh worse were those age 65+ (12%), SEG (socio-economic group) E (12%) and those with a long-term health problem/disability (11%).

A mix of cultural events and venues have been visited by Edinburgh residents, most commonly the cinema (59%). Those least likely to have attended any of the listed events/venues were those from SEG (socio-economic group) E (57% answered ‘none of the above’) and unemployed respondents (50%). People with a health problem/disability were less likely to have visited these events and venues (40% had not done so) than those without (17%) as were men (25%) compared to women (18%).

Those with children were more likely to have attended events (82% v 77%), as were students (90%) and 16-24 year olds (89%).

Of the 5,170 respondents to the survey, 95% gave Edinburgh the thumbs up as a place to live, while 65% said they were satisfied with the way the Council manages the city, although with the caveat that there had been a dip in satisfaction with key council services such as waste collection and recycling. The Edinburgh People Survey (EPS) was carried out independently on the Council’s behalf in every ward between September and December 2018. 

A City of Edinburgh Council spokesperson said: “Edinburgh has a cultural scene to be proud of and we must continue to work to ensure that everyone has access to world class cultural provision.

“We support the sustainable success of the city’s major festivals which generate jobs and boost local businesses, through regular funding, the City Region Deal and Festivals Edinburgh, and by increasing funding available for local level events. 

“Each Festival has specific community programmes aimed at improving engagement, participation and satisfaction levels, and at a collective level the Council –  in partnership with Festivals and the Scottish Government have recently launched the PLACE programme. The programme has a specific community engagement strand which is in line with our aspirations to expand the reach of festival activity beyond the city centre and into our communities, bringing the benefits of the festivals to some of the most socially excluded in Edinburgh.”

For the full results of the survey click here.