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Marketing Edinburgh suffers fresh criticism over cuts to film arm

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By Jennifer Faull, Deputy Editor

March 17, 2013 | 3 min read

Marketing Edinburgh has been criticised by politicians at Edinburgh City Council following its decision to make cuts to Edinburgh Film Focus, a branch of Marketing Edinburgh dedicated to bringing film and TV productions to the city.

Edinburgh City Council, which gives the organisation more than £1 million every year, attacked senior management with members for making job cuts.

SNP councillor David Key said that Edinburgh Film Focus was a “kernel of creativity” in the otherwise troubled and “monochrome” marketing agency.

Key went on to describe the website of Marketing Edinburgh as “appalling”. He said: “I don’t know if any of you have ever seen the Marketing Edinburgh website, and I do encourage you to do so, because it’s the dullest website I’ve seen this year. It’s appalling actually. This is the shop front of Edinburgh. Half the page is a disclaimer about privacy.

“Eventually when you look hard you find the Edinfilm.com link and you go through a cinematic transition to this vibrant, colourful, Oz-like world.

“That sums up the wider situation completely. [Marketing Edinburgh] is a monochromatic, corporate body and inside there’s this kernel of creativity which we are about to chop in half - and I think now is the wrong time to do that.

“Given that we fund Marketing Edinburgh substantially, what can we do to make them change their mind on this one?”

In response, Andrew Burns, the Labour council leader, said: “I’m under no illusion about the importance, in terms of finance to the Edinburgh economy, of supporting the film, industry”.

“You’re not the only person who has raised the reduction in staff at Film Focus with me.

“Indeed we had a round table discussion directly with the [council] chief executive about these very issues. There is no question that this decision may be reviewed. It will be reviewed.”

Edinburgh Film Focus generates roughly £5 million each year for the capital city’s economy, meanwhile Glasgow brings in about £26 million from the same industry with recent deals seeing Brad Pitt film multi-million pound World War Z in the city centre.

A spokeswoman for Marketing Edinburgh commented: “We have had to make some difficult decisions in order to make sure Marketing Edinburgh has the breadth of skills and resources it requires to meet the numerous opportunities to promote Scotland’s Capital.

“We believe that we’ve made the right decisions in balancing all aspects of our remit from the film unit to supporting the Council and other businesses across the city. We will continue with this structure and of course review and measure performance as we go to make sure that the organisation as a whole thrives, whilst delivering significant economic return to the city of Edinburgh.”

The comments come following a disastrous year for Marketing Edinburgh after its 'Incrediburgh' initiative was blasted by MPs which culminated in many senior members of management leaving the company. Director of marketing, Alan Gibson, resigned in February this year while CEO Lucy Bird left the organisation late last year.

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