The plug has been pulled on one of the world’s most iconic arts festivals due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe will no longer go ahead in August due to the covid-19 outbreak.
The Edinburgh International Festival, the Art Festival, the International Book Festival and the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo have also been scrapped.
Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, Scotland’s First Minister described the decision to cancel the Edinburgh festivals this summer as “heartbreaking, but the right decision”.
Nicola Sturgeon also added that the Scottish Government was looking at redistributing support given to the festivals to ensure artists and freelancers are paid, pledging help from the government to make sure the festivals return “even stronger”.
She also praised employers who made the decision to close to protect the health and safety of their workforce during the outbreak.
Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society chief executive Shona McCarthy said: “Just a few months ago, the idea of Edinburgh without the Fringe and our sister festivals would have been totally unthinkable.
“Now, like so many other aspects of our day-to-day lives, we must pause and take stock in the face of something far bigger.
“My thoughts too are with the many thousands of artists, writers, producers, reviewers, venues and backstage crew whose careers have been put on hold over the past month or so.
“We know today’s decision will be a difficult one for many, but please know that we will continue to be here for you and will do everything we can to support you in the weeks and months ahead.
“Today’s decision that the Fringe will not go ahead as planned was not taken lightly.
“We have spent the past month listening to a broad cross-section of Fringe participants, as well as to government, healthcare professionals, residents and many more.
“However, in light of present circumstances, it was unavoidable. Public health must and always will come first.”
She said Fringe staff are working to “mitigate the impact” of the cancellation and that the festival will be refunding participant registration fees, tickets and Friends memberships.
Participants who have already paid are being offered the chance of taking their registration forward to 2021.
Ms McCarthy added: “Financially this has not been straightforward – as the small charity that underpins the Fringe we receive very little public subsidy – but we believe that offering refunds is the right thing to do and will turn this around as quickly as possible.
“There will also be an option to donate all or part of your purchase to support artists and the work of the Fringe Society, but this will of course be entirely optional.”
She also paid tribute to those on the frontline of the fight against covid-19, adding: “Our hearts go out to the doctors, nurses, health and social care professionals on the front line, to everyone working to keep the country going, and to those who have been directly affected by this pandemic.
“Your courage in the face of adversity is an inspiration to us all.”
Fergus Linehan, festival director at Edinburgh International Festival, said: “We are hugely disappointed to announce this cancellation but given the current outlook we believe it is the correct decision.
“The Edinburgh International Festival was born out of adversity – an urgent need to reconnect and rebuild. The current crisis presents all at the festival with a similar sense of urgency. Work begins straight away on a 2021 festival season that will boost both our spirits and our economy.”