• Sun. Jul 14th, 2024

Soaring accommodation costs during the Fringe festival driving artists from the city. What’s the solution?

ByJack Ferguson

Sep 24, 2023
Busy Crowds Line a Street

Performances in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe programme were up 6.5% this year from 2022. Although this suggests the festival is steadily recovering from the effects of the pandemic, more shows this year meant even more performers arriving in Edinburgh for the festival and needing a place to stay. Recent evidence shows that the festival is increasingly becoming unaffordable for artists. 

The Scotsman reported that a three-bedroom flat in the Old Town was listed on Vrbo as costing just under £34,000 for a one-month stay during this year’s Fringe Festival. A high proportion of housing on the site charged upwards of £10,000 for just a one month stay during the festival period. 

The extortionate cost of accommodation in the city has impacted performers at the festival, who have been forced out to the fringes for the Fringe. Last year, The Guardian reported on the experiences of Fringe performers who were living in campsites on the outskirts of the city. This had dire professional and personal consequences for these artists, with one missing out on taking well-paid gigs because of how long it took to travel into the city. Additionally, another felt anxiety over how to get back to her isolated accommodation in the middle of the night after a performance. The report warns of the danger of having a lack of diversity in Fringe performers due to many working-class artists being priced out of the city. 

Chortle gathered the views of Fringe artists on how to combat the tension between more acts performing at the Fringe and the increasing demand for accommodation, much of which is already extortionate. One artist floated the idea of veteran performers no longer attending the Fringe. How brutal. If a ban on well-known artists attending the Fringe had been put in place this year, then Fringe audiences would have been deprived of Ed Byrne’s devastating and hilarious Tragedy Plus Time show. According to the British Comedy Guide,  Byrne had the best reviewed stand-up show at this year’s Fringe.

So, what cheaper alternatives could be provided to performers? Another Fringe artist suggested that accommodation could be provided in properties that are usually left vacant during August, which could charge a lower rate. This increase in housing options could drive down rent prices in the city overall. This alternative accommodation could potentially be university halls of residence. Last year, Queen Margaret University led by example and gave Fringe artists an exclusive rate during the festival of £250 per week, per person, to stay in a single ensuite room in a self-catered flat with a shared kitchen. All of which was a short train ride into the city centre. 

There is no denying the fact that a festival known for birthing the stars of tomorrow will feel unreachable to many who have talent, but lack the funds to realise their dreams.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe Crowd” by thisisedinburgh is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

By Jack Ferguson