THE economic impact of last month's Outwith Festival was "even better than expected" with attendances of more than 9,000 and a spend of £334,000.

Organisers said audiences for the six-day Dunfermline arts extravaganza were up by 26 per cent compared to 2018, with one in five people travelling from outside Fife.

The net economic impact also more than doubled, it was £155,000 last year, and it's the level of spending and length of stay that have really stepped up – giving a real financial boost to the town.

There are high hopes it will return next year and Chris Foote, of Delivering Dunfermline, said: "The economic impact findings are even better than we expected for a festival that only started three years ago; the festival has brought in over three times what it cost.

“And while our costs are offset by support from our funders and by ticket income, they’re already much lower, thanks to the time and skills that the festival partners and volunteers continue to donate all year round.”

Festival-goers flocked to Outwith from September 3 to 8 with 74 film, music, comedy, literature, theatre and art events in 23 venues with more than 300 performances for fans to enjoy.

On the bill were the likes of jazz saxophonist Tommy Smith, Scottish punk trailblazer Fay Fife, James Yorkston and Withered Hand.

The Saturday £20 wristband, which allowed access to multiple music venues, sold out with headliners including a DJ set from Tim Burgess, Idlewild, Honeyblood and William McCarthy.

Outwith has only been going for three years but as it's expanded – they've added a day each year – the benefits have increased with more people attending from further afield, including the rest of Scotland, England and overseas, who are staying longer and spending more money in Dunfermline.

Economic research consultancy 4-Consulting was commissioned to measure the impact of the festival in 2018 and 2019.

The results were based on 2,355 advance ticket sales through ONFife's box office and more than 250 online and face-to-face surveys.

The proportion of people staying one night or more rose from 11 per cent in 2018 to 15 per cent this year, the average spend per festival-goer was £51 and nearly 80 per cent of them said it was the main reason for their visit to Dunfermline, up from 72 per cent last year.

Feedback was positive with 96 per cent of those who responded rating Outwith as Good or Very Good.

The festival was organised in conjunction with Fire Station Creative, culture group Avocado Sweet and Write Rammy.

Jane Livingstone, of Avocado Sweet, said: "Apart from the money coming into the local economy, the less quantifiable benefits are considerable.

"As a result of the media coverage generated by this event, Dunfermline’s national profile is rising.

"The festival also provides a platform for local artists, performers and community groups – many of whom had a greater impact by working together.”

Planning for next year's Outwith is already under way, however, there is a doubt about its future.

The Business Improvement District (BID) company that organised it, Dunfermline Delivers, lost its renewal ballot earlier this year and was wound up on September 20.

Thanks to 'transitional' funding of £100,000 from Fife Council, a new community interest company, Delivering Dunfermline, has been set up to take over the town centre events and initiatives.

However, the council money will only last around six months, to the end of this financial year, and a new funding source has yet to be found.

The hope is that Outwith's success will make it easier to attract backers – this year it received funding from EventScotland, Carnegie Dunfermline Trust, Fife Council and Fife Events Fund.

It was also supported by ONFife (Fife Cultural Trust), the Heritage Lottery Fund, Police Scotland and Fife College.