EXCLUSIVE: Fringe accommodation is so EXPENSIVE that artists expect to make a loss
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The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is the largest arts festival in the world. Last year alone, there were over 50,000 performances of almost 4,000 shows across the space of 25 days. Year after year, performers, artists, and creatives flock up to Scotland to showcase their productions. However, the Fringe may be in danger of becoming a victim of its own success. As its popularity increases, Festival executives have noticed an increase in the price of accommodation in the surrounding areas. This development is having a significant effect on both prospective audience members and the artists that hope to take work up there, especially smaller companies with low budgets. Concerns have been raised so often by artists, performers, producers and promoters that Fringe chief executive, Shona McCarthy, has warned the accommodation prices are threatening the “lifeblood” of the festival. We spoke to some artists and audience members about their experience with accommodation at the Fringe. Fringe first-timer, Kirsty Osmon, has spent around £3,500 on accommodation to take Empty Wallet Production’s show, Awakening, up to the Fringe this year. With their company’s place being confirmed relatively late, Empty Wallet Productions found it difficult to locate any properties still available that fit their needs of a two bedroom property, settling eventually for a three bedroom property (where the living room had been converted into the third room). Osmon said that if she wanted bedding to be provided, she would have to pay for it further at £75 per set. Osmon told us that “even if I rented my [London, zone two] two -bedroom flat on Airbnb for all of August it still wouldn’t cover half of what I’ve got to pay for Edinburgh accommodation.” Georgia Carney, co-writer and actor in No Door Theatre’s Bitter, told us that as a company of four people, they’ve had to rent a one bedroom flat, with one double bed, to stay in for the week that they are at the Fringe. Even with economising on space and members of the company fronting the costs of the Festival out of personal savings, Carney said that they were only able to afford one week in total. Carney believes that “if accommodation prices came down I think it would make things much more accessible for people to see, as the fringe shows themselves are pretty accessible, as you have the free fringe and lots of shows (such as ours) are pay what you can!”, as well as telling us that she aims to go to the Fringe every year for as long as she can “but accommodation prices definitely have an impact on that."
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