Soaring accommodation costs put Edinburgh Fringe’s future at risk, say eight major sites
The eight main production locations behind EdFest.com – who understand Assembly, Dance Base, Gilded Balloon, Just the Tonic, Pleasance, summer hall, Underbelly and ZOO – have collectively said soaring accommodation costs are the biggest risk to the future of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. 1,965,961 tickets were collectively sold by the eight venues in 2019, while more than 1,486,746 are expected to be sold this year.
A spokesperson for EdFest.com said: “It was fantastic to be back at the first full Fringe since 2019 – to see the live performance industry come back to life in this post-pandemic world. There has been a real appetite and energy for shared, live experiences in Edinburgh over the past few weeks and the quality of the program has been incredible – yet the expected number of tickets we have collectively sold is down 25 % from 2019 that is a major threat to everyone involved in the festival.
“Together we, the eight venues, are expected to have sold over 1,486,746 tickets despite the very real ongoing challenges in our industry including the cost of living crisis, the lingering effects of coronavirus, the cost and uncertainty of international travel, recent train strikes and more. Chief among them, however, is the spike in the cost of accommodation in Edinburgh in August – audiences and performers are charged out of town, out of the experiences.
“It is clear to anyone spending time in Edinburgh that there are fewer people in the city this year than in 2019. Although there are certainly other factors which have affected the audience numbers this year ; the cost of accommodation is an ongoing issue in all areas. Disruptions to public transport, delays with artist visas and high fuel costs are even more insurmountable when people and performers simply cannot afford to stay in the city.
We know that the lack of safe and affordable accommodation is not just an August issue, but one that affects artists, staff and audiences who call Edinburgh home. It is imperative that local and national government, landlords, universities, Fringe venues and the Fringe Society all come together to find a lasting solution to this problem, or the future of the Fringe is in very real danger. In the long term, we too to have to find solutions that allow the festival to be affordable for the artists and the public. Given the extent of the reduction in sales, the festival as a whole has major work to do to bring the event back to normality, which may take several years and require some public support. We need to stabilize the current situation where many people have suffered significant losses; resolving the housing issue; find ways to support the work; and a major marketing campaign to bring audiences back to the festival.
“Over the past 75 years, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe has earned its reputation as the world’s premier arts festival. We must continue to work together to do everything in our power to ensure that it remains a vibrant, inclusive and financially accessible destination for another 75 years.