Festival finances

Fringe puts case for more funding as costs rise

Giles Brandreth and Jason Byrne (pic: Terry Murden)

The Edinburgh Fringe will continue to press for more funding to ensure it receives support that reflects its contribution to the economy, said the society’s chairman.

Organisers hailed its “vibrancy” and the range of issues tackled, from mental health to the climate crisis, but Benny Higgins said it continues to face challenges.

In comments marking the close of this year’s festival, he said: “The discussions and debates held at this year’s festival have made it one of the most vital and memorable – and one of the loudest conversations was the one around affordability.

“Certainly artists are facing some of the most severe challenges ever, and while the Fringe Society will continue to do everything in its collective power to support artists, this will become harder and harder without finding support commensurate with its contribution to the economy.

“We will continue to make the case for funding, to protect what the Fringe represents – an unrivalled outpouring of creative expression.”

On the eve of this year’s event, Fringe promoter William Burdett-Coutts, artistic director, founder and CEO of the Assembly Festival, warned of a growing financial crisis.

This year’s programme featured more than 3,553 shows, with 288 venues hosting a diverse selection of work.

The 2,445,609 tickets issued was an 11% increase on last year, but 20% lower that the on the last pre-pandemic festival in 2019.

In addition to the host venues, almost 500 street performers, buskers and street artists allowed visitors to be entertained for free.

The Fringe also attracted nearly 1,400 accredited producers, programmers, bookers, talent agencies, festivals and others from 49 countries, who come to Edinburgh looking to find talent and shows.

There were 840 accredited media, with the number of reviewers up 10% on last year, and who in total generated 25% more reviews for artists than last year. 

Shona McCarthy, chief executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, said: “This year’s Fringe has been one that’s felt fresh, brave and energetic, and has sparked joy, discussion and provocation in equal measure, tackling the prevalent issues of our times and looking at them afresh through the creative lens and ingenuity of the performing artists.

“People come from all over the world to perform here, to see shows and to commission work. This festival remains a beacon for people to share and discuss ideas – I want to express my heartfelt thanks and admiration to everyone who makes it happen.

“Congratulations to the whole Fringe community of Fringe 2023; we will be relentless in our ongoing work to ensure that the Edinburgh Fringe lives up to its mantra – to give anyone a stage and everyone a seat.”

Next year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe will run from 2 to 26 August.

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