Visual arts lobby angered by Edinburgh decision: Festival director under fire after major exhibitions omitted from brochure

DISHARMONY threatened the run-up to the Edinburgh Festival yesterday as the festival's director was accused of ignoring the visual arts in his brochure. The exclusion means the National Museums and National Galleries of Scotland have had to use thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money to advertise their flagship exhibition separately.

Brian McMaster, the former head of Welsh National Opera, who is in his second year as festival director, had managed, so far, to avoid the internal rows which were commonplace in previous years. But his decision to restrict the world's largest arts festival to theatre, music and dance has infuriated the visual arts lobby. The official brochure for the festival, which starts on 15 August, contains just two items under the heading 'exhibitions'. One is a photography show from New York. The other is a display of theatrical ephemera. Painting, sculpture and any British visual arts are absent.

Dr Sheila Brock, head of public affairs at the National Museums of Scotland and chair of the Scottish Arts Council's visual arts committee, said: 'We were dismayed when we saw that our exhibition had not been included. How else do all the tourists pouring into the city for the festival know where we are and what the exhibition is. The visitor is being shortchanged.

'For many years we were included as a matter of course. We have had to undertake extra expenditure on advertising because of this, including buying the back cover of the fringe programme. The real crux of the matter is that after being an integral part of the festival we now have to be identified with the fringe.'

The museum's international exhibition, The Power Of The Mask, is one of the most spectacular mounted there, and includes masks used in play, rituals and carnivals.

There was anger too from the National Galleries of Scotland, which has five exhibitions on during the festival, including one from Russia. This is the first year the Edinburgh-based institution has not figured in the brochure, and it, too, has had to pay to advertise. It was told by the festival office that it could not even pay to advertise in the official programme.

Richard Calvocoressi, keeper of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, said that he had scheduled the gallery's summer exhibition, Russian Painting of the Avant Garde 1906-1924, to include the festival period in the belief that it would be of interest to visitors and might bring credit to the festival itself. The Russians are sending their Minister of Culture and several museum directors to the opening of the exhibition in August.

He added: 'By refusing even to publicise these exhibitions, the festival has now decided to ignore one of its major assets.'

The spokeswoman for the Edinburgh Festival said: 'We are taking responsibility for one exhibition, a major one from the Met which we have got for Edinburgh, rather than just listing all the exhibitions that are on. We decided not to take paid advertising because we felt the space could be better used to sell the festival.'

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas