Future of Edinburgh Fringe Festival in ‘real danger’ unless social distance rules are relaxed

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Organizers warn Edinburgh Fringe Festival future is in ‘real danger’ unless Scottish government relaxes social distance rules within two weeks

  • The social distance rule should be lowered to one meter, festival organizers say
  • The popular festival takes place this summer between 6 and 30 August
  • Bosses warned last year that the public was suffering from ‘digital fatigue’

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is ‘in danger’ if the Scottish government does not relax social distancing rules for venues within a fortnight, the organizer has warned.

Shona McCarthy, chief executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, pleaded with ministers to drop the current two-meter rule for venues to the one-meter rule used in hospitality.

She warned that the future of the 75-year-old festival would be in jeopardy if the rule of social aloofness didn’t change.

Mrs. McCarthy told The Times Scotland: ‘In another two weeks it won’t be impossible for anyone [Edinburgh promoter] to put on something.

There is a real danger to the future of the Fringe.

‘A year without a festival was manageable, and we were able to keep it at heart and everyone still kept that space in their agenda, as that annual moment to reconnect and get together.

‘With two years you endanger the permanent space that the Fringe has occupied for 75 years.

“This is a time when we really look to the Scottish Government to take that leap of faith and trust the operators of Fringe in the same way that they trust the hospitality industry to deliver services safely to the public.”

Edinburgh’s Royal Mile is usually packed with visitors to the city for the month-long Fringe Festival

Organizers said last year that the festival will be a mix of live and digital events in 2021, but warned audiences are getting frustrated with online content they don't want to pay for.

Organizers said last year that the festival will be a mix of live and digital events in 2021, but warned audiences are getting frustrated with online content they don’t want to pay for.

It comes after the Edinburgh Festival Fringe was canceled for the first time in its history last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Registration for both online and in-person performances at this year’s event – which will take place from August 6-30 – opened earlier this month.

A Scottish government spokeswoman said: ‘We do not underestimate the dire consequences of this pandemic for the performing arts.

‘We want the performing arts sector to be able to fully reopen and plan future activities with confidence, but we must remain very careful to ensure the continued suppression of Covid-19.

In Level 2, indoor events in environments such as theaters, concert halls, music venues and comedy clubs are allowed with a maximum of 100 people, subject to physical distance measures.

Guidelines are being established through which higher capacities can be agreed with the local government or the Scottish Government, depending on the event and the environment’s ability to safely hold larger numbers.

“We are in the process of reviewing physical distancing, and an announcement of the outcome of this assessment is scheduled in advance of the planned move to Level 1 on June 7.

The world-famous art event was canceled for the first time last summer due to the coronavirus pandemic

The world-famous art event was canceled for the first time last summer due to the coronavirus pandemic

Silent Disco Walking Tour sensation Guru Dudu takes guests through Edinburgh's Grassmarket during the 2017 Fringe

Silent Disco Walking Tour sensation Guru Dudu takes guests through Edinburgh’s Grassmarket during the 2017 Fringe

“Physical distance has been an important tool to combat the virus, but as with all limitations, we will only have this as long as it is needed.”

It comes after bosses of the Fringe warned last year that the public was suffering from “ digital fatigue ” – saying events wouldn’t return to normal until 2022.

They said the festival would be a mix of live and digital events in 2021, but the warned public was getting frustrated with online content they don’t want to pay for.

Oliver Davies, head of marketing, said in late 2020, “ The difference between two meters and one meter of social distance made the difference between breaking even or making a small profit for some locations, and having absolutely no one in the room.

‘How you plan that will be quite a challenge.

Looking to the future, the honest answer at this stage is “who knows?” I don’t think any of us have a crystal ball for where this is going.

‘The reality is, terribly practically speaking, that many of the spaces most iconic in the Fringe are the least ventilated, the hardest to get in and out, and the hardest to manage queues with social distance.’

10 Things You Didn’t Know About the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

  1. Open to everyone: Anyone with a location who wants to receive them can perform in the Fringe.
  2. The third event with the most tickets in the world: Almost 2.7 million tickets were sold in 2017, a number that was only beaten by the Olympics and the World Cup. In 2019, approximately 3,012,490 were sold.
  3. Not just comedy: With more than 3,000 shows in a wide variety of genres, including acrobatics, magic, theater, burlesque, hip hop, poetry, politics, beatboxing, opera and jazz, there is something for all ages and appetites.
  4. Started by rebels: In 1947 eight performing groups came uninvited to the newly formed Edinburgh International Festival. The fact that they weren’t part of the official festival schedule didn’t stop them from putting on their costumes and putting on shows at the ‘fringe’ of the festival. Little did they know that more than 70 years later, the Fringe would attract millions of audiences. That’s more than four million minutes. Or 2,855 days.
  5. There can be a location anywhere: The Fringe has hosted shows in taxis, football stadiums, underground tunnels, swimming pools and on the beach. With over 300 locations across the city, Edinburgh is completely transformed for 25 days every August, as unfamiliar spaces turn into Fringe stages.
  6. It’s truly international: With shows from more than 62 countries, artists and audiences flock to Edinburgh from all over the world every August to enjoy some of the most exciting, entertaining and groundbreaking shows in the world, from Korean drumming to German stand-ups. , from flamenco to home-grown theater, you can travel the world in one city.
  7. It has its own time zone: Fringe days, known as Fringe Time, start at 5:00 AM and end at 4:59 AM, so shows in the early hours are listed for the day before. Fringe shows take place from breakfast until the early hours and many of the bars and pubs in the city are open until 5am, making the city a 24/7 celebration of art and culture.
  8. Stars are born there: Rachel Weisz, Steve Coogan, Billy Connolly, Jude Law, Emma Thompson, Stephen Fry, Mike Myers … just some of the big names who have performed in the Fringe over the years, while countless others got their big breakthroughs in Edinburgh , including Phoebe Waller Bridge.
  9. Doesn’t the handbag hurt: With hundreds of free shows, 2 for 1 ticket offers, and the Virgin Money Half Price Hut, you can experience the Fringe without breaking the bank.
  10. Every sale helps the cause: Every ticket you buy through The Fringe supports the artists who make the festival possible. The Fringe Society, the charity behind the Fringe, is also working to make the Fringe as accessible as possible for D / deaf and handicapped audiences, among others.
Edinburgh Fringe shop and ticket sales on Edinburgh's Royal Mile, where thousands usually gather for the festival every August

Edinburgh Fringe shop and ticket sales on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, where thousands usually gather for the festival every August

Source: Edinburgh Fringe Festival

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