Fringe Festival 2019: Are increasing visitors a boost for locals?

A surge of locals attending shows helped the 2019 Edinburgh Festival Fringe to another record year at the box office.
Over three million tickets were sold at the 2019 event, marking the seventh successive yearly box office increase.This 12 percent rise from 2018 was helped by the highest-ever 856,541 tickets sold to Edinburgh residents.

The share of festivalgoers calling Scotland home was 56 percent, while performers, audiences and media from 150 different nations attended. Local performers were also well represented with over 750 shows amongst the 3,841 listed from 63 different countries.

Fringe Society Chair Tim O’Shea said, “We want everybody in Edinburgh to have the opportunity to attend and enjoy the Fringe, which is why we have been developing and enhancing our work to engage with people in the city who might not have had the chance to attend before.
“The positive impact of the Fringe is felt long after August comes to a close – from the artists who use the Fringe as a career springboard to the local communities who come to the festival, many for the first time, and are inspired to take up something completely new.”

Chief Executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society Shona McCarthy said, * “The Fringe is the perfect combination of local and global – a magnificent medieval city and its residents welcoming performing artists from all over the world.
“At a time of political division and uncertainty around the world, the role of the Fringe as a platform for radical conversations to happen – from the future of our environment to gender politics, racism and disability – has never been more important.
“We are delighted to welcome audiences from Edinburgh, Scotland, the rest of the UK and across the world to this year’s Fringe, alongside 1,661 producers, programmers and bookers who will help ensure the work presented at this year’s festival is seen by audiences in venues and festivals both here in the UK and internationally.”

New initiatives such as 80 sensory backpacks for children and adults with autism, as well as BSL interpretation on the Royal Mile every Saturday were launched this year by the Fringe. It has also been reported that 61 percent of Fringe shows were wheelchair accessible. Criticism, however, was not absent.

Equity spoke out, a union representing performers, exposing that property rent for performers is spiralling. The Fringe has also been scrutinised for its sexual harassment record. Fair Fringe, who campaign for festival workers’ rights, said in an open letter,
“Sexual harassment in Fringe venues is rife, and employers do not take their duty of care responsibilities seriously.” Police Scotland say they have not received any reports.

Image: Festival Fringe Society via Wikipedia 

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