Fringe Society survey looks like any show – Daily Business Magazine

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Visitors have expressed concern about the cost of accommodation (photo: Terry Murden)

After facing some criticism, the Edinburgh Fringe Society is asking for comment, but ANDY MOSELEY will be surprised if something changes


Edinburgh’s Fringe Society, which took a few hits during the summer festival, is in listening mode, seeking feedback from artists, audiences, venues, fringe workers, media and anyone else who plays a role in the greatest artistic spectacle in the world. It is an exercise that will be greeted with a mixture of enthusiasm, optimism… and weary resignation.

Enthusiasm and optimism because they’re going to collect ratings from such a wide range of people on such a wide range of topics, but weary resignation because it probably won’t change anything.

The errors and problems of the fringe 2022 are clear to all: rising accommodation costs, falling ticket sales, absence of the fringe application and disappearance of paper tickets and box offices in favor of a desire to incentivize everyone to buy e-tickets.

But these are just the tip of an iceberg that, unlike most large masses of ice, was already growing in size before the pandemic hid it from sight for a few years.

At that time, there could have been some real thinking about what the Fringe should look like when it returns. Instead, there was just the assumption that he would return, more or less, as he was. It was a missed opportunity. The opportunity to overcome the shortcomings of the beggar fringe.

As for knowing what those flaws are, it can be boiled down to a simple starting point. While the Fringe Society may recognize that Fringe performers are essential to the Fringe event, let alone generate millions for the city, the recognition is not backed by a corresponding financial package.

It’s almost the opposite. The more people the Fringe attracts, the higher the costs for performers and the lower the chance of a return on investment. This is the question that must be addressed for the long term durability of the Fringe.

The fact that the survey results will be used “to bring together the right people and the right partnerships to find solutions and advocate for greater support to ensure the long-term sustainability of the Fringe” does not immediately suggest that ‘there will be more than more goals and ambitions with little practical action behind them by the time Fringe 2023 begins.

Judging by this year’s feedback, a growing number of artists have already decided that coming to Edinburgh just isn’t viable anymore. The Fringe Society needs to recognize this and put it at the heart of what it does next. If they don’t, there will be a sense that the investigation is little more than a classic example of fiddling while Rome burns.

Andy Moseley is playwright and artistic correspondent for Daily occupations

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