Edinburgh Festival Day 2: Festival Eye

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The Independent Culture
RICHARD DEMARCO, the impresario, marked the opening of the Festival by setting fire to a model of his face. He explained the effigy-burning as an act of defiance: 'I've had my face burnt by the arts funding bodies every summer here for the last 26 years, so this year I thought I'd do it for real.'

The match-wood mask was a gift from sculptor David Mach. The charred head remains will be exhibited in one of a row of shops in Blackfriars Street which have been lent to Demarco by Edinburgh council for the Festival period.

'This is an Arts Council-free zone,' said Demarco, whose Arts Council grant was withdrawn four years ago. 'Everything else in this Festival is contaminated. The arts in Britain have caught the Arts Council's disease of complacency. I decided that a little cleansing with fire was in order. I invite the Arts Council to follow suit.'

Demarco has also issued a dinner invitation to Brian McMaster, the director of the Edinburgh Festival, to discuss the rejuvenation of the Scottish arts. The invitation is the end product of years spent badgering the authorities. Demarco, 74, is soon leaving Edinburgh to become Professor of European Cultural Studies at Kingston University, and his summers will be spent with impoverished Eastern European artists at the Alamassy Palace, Budapest. Tom Morris