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Edinburgh International Festival corporate partners Baillie Gifford shed light on building resilience for organisations and supporting communities in need.

Baillie Gifford is well known as a generous sponsor across the arts and this extends to Edinburgh International Festival with whom they have partnered with for over 20 years. Their approach to sponsorship, however, is refreshingly unique: “Our giving is philanthropic. We look at what we can do to help an organisation,” explained Samantha Pattman, Sponsorship Manager at Baillie Gifford. “We are known as long-term investors and a lot of that is reflected in our partnership with the festivals and in the sponsorships that we have.”

The priority has always been to find organisations with great ideas and support them to do work that benefits the wider community. The Covid-19 pandemic saw Baillie Gifford work with more community engagement and outreach projects. In Castlebrae Community High School for example, a large number of pupils were living in deprived socio-economic areas and considered at risk. Without access to technology, many were unable to learn at home and so began falling behind with their studies. Baillie Gifford was able to donate laptops to distribute to the pupils most in need. They also delivered hot meals to those who would otherwise go without and supported mental health provision that will service pupils, their families, and the wider community for the next three years.

For creative ageing festival Luminate, many of their audience members were shielding and unable to access the usual regular resources. Baillie Gifford’s funding enabled them to create a library of online dementia-friendly films that kept elderly communities engaged, motivated and connected. As a result, they increased reach and engagement levels during this difficult time.

Baillie Gifford has given to projects like Steps to Hope, Citadel and Cyrenians who already engaged with people at risk or in need, but suddenly found themselves inundated with clients without access to basic provisions, including foodbanks. By providing unrestricted funding, Baillie Gifford enabled these groups to overcome significant costs they were not prepared for, in whichever way they saw fit.

Increased work with community projects has resonated with Baillie Gifford partners and staff too, who got involved with volunteering, mentorship and fundraising opportunities. JustGiving pages were set up for NHS Lothian and Foundation Scotland National Emergencies Trust and all staff donations were match funded by the company, building pride and belief in the ability to affect change.

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Our giving is philanthropic. We look at what we can do to help an organisation,

When it comes to their support of Edinburgh International Festival, Sam described the unity perfectly: “It’s that global reach and diversity that makes us who we are. We know the International Festival can bring international artists to Edinburgh, which affords locals and visitors the opportunity to experience different cultures, different ideas and to make Edinburgh a better place.” Their ability to facilitate the wider world being brought to an Edinburgh stage has long been the driving force behind an ongoing, collaborative relationship. Baillie Gifford also supports Edinburgh International Book Festival and were glad to see the festivals working together to put on a cohesive united front in 2020.

The cancellation of all the Edinburgh August festivals had a big impact on Baillie Gifford but, Sam explained, “We never once thought ‘we need to recoup the cost because they’re not doing a festival’.” Instead, they made the generous decision to allow everyone, including Edinburgh International Festival, to keep their funding and repurpose it however they saw fit to build resilience in the absence of usual funding routes.

Thanks to this generous support, Edinburgh International Festival was able to put on a programme of artistic interventions this August, and My Light Shines On elicited an emotional response from audiences and partners. While sitting in Princes Street Gardens listening to our Chamber Music Soundscapes against the backdrop of Edinburgh Castle, Sam described a ‘moment of serenity’ in which she could reflect on what was missing in Edinburgh this August and how lucky we were to have the performances we did. “You take it for granted that you go to the theatre, you’re sat there in the dark and the lights go up and there’s this fantastic performance, whether it be Scottish Ballet, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, National Theatre or the like. There was nothing quite like seeing them perform. I’ve really missed that and I can’t wait for it to come back.”

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There was nothing quite like seeing them perform. I’ve really missed that and I can’t wait for it to come back.

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