Edinburgh Deaf Festival is at risk due to funding decision



Edinburgh Deaf Festival has had two funding applications rejected by Creative Scotland, putting the future of the festival at risk.


Edinburgh Deaf Festival faces an uncertain future after being denied funding by Creative Scotland. Our festival, which was launched in 2022, has come to establish itself as an integral part of the Edinburgh Festival family. Our work in creating a cultural space where deaf communities can celebrate their identity, culture, language, and heritage has been critical to deaf artists and audiences in Scotland.

Yet we now face a funding crisis due to this decision, despite the Scottish Government’s pledge to make the country the ‘best in the world for BSL users to live, work, visit and learn’. This is a major blow for the deaf community and throws into doubt the ability of the government to achieve the aims set out in its newly published 2023-2029 British Sign Language (BSL) National Plan.

After an application to the Open Fund was rejected in July 2023, our application to the Extended Programme Fund was turned down once again in October 2023 on the basis that the funding round was ‘competitive’.

The plan also says the Scottish Government will ‘Work with Creative Scotland to help embed BSL further within culture and the arts in Scotland’, yet their recent funding decisions have ruled Creative Scotland out of funding the Edinburgh Deaf Festival until at least 2025.

Edinburgh Deaf Festival was established to celebrate deaf culture, language, and heritage. When deaf audience members come through our doors, they understand that their needs will be fully met and understood. Deaf artists can be assured that they have a pathway to develop their careers, opportunities to showcase their talents, and have confidence in knowing that the support is there to have all possible barriers removed for them to reach their potential.

For too long, the deaf community has had to settle for the scraps of inclusion and accessibility. But since the arrival of Edinburgh Deaf Festival, we’re proud to see that the deaf community has had more visibility and representation within the festival scene than ever before.

Philip Gerrard, CEO of Deaf Action, said:
“Given that the festival is unique in Scotland, and so completely meets the aspirations of the Scottish Government and Creative Scotland, we are at a loss to understand how the needs of the deaf community will be met, if not by us. Is it now considered enough to provide access to the arts solely through the use of interpreters? Access without representation cannot meet the aims of the National Plan. No other cultural and linguistic minority is expected to settle for access alone.”

In light of these challenges, Deaf Action and Edinburgh Deaf Festival urgently call upon Creative Scotland and the Scottish Government to reconsider the funding decision. The festival’s unique contribution to the cultural landscape and its role in advancing inclusivity and equality for the deaf community cannot be overstated.

What can you do?

We invite you to engage with us and join our campaign to help secure the future of Edinburgh Deaf Festival. Your support can make a difference in preserving this cultural celebration for the deaf community.

Help us secure the future of your festival by showing your support. You can do this by writing to Creative Scotland, the Scottish Government, or your MSP.

You can share your festival stories with us, whether you are a performer, partner or audience member, let us know how Edinburgh Festival has impacted you. Tag us on social media and use the hashtags #EdinburghDeafFestival and #DeafFestivalAccess.

Facebook @EdinDeafFestival
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Instagram: @EdinDeafFestival

Or get in touch with us directly at festival@deafaction.org