Growth of Edinburgh Fringe audience concerns event organisers in annual report

 

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival has vowed to adjust the way the event is advertised after concerns over the impact of its growing audience.

After releasing the annual Fringe review for 2019, organisers have acknowledged that a new strategy managing the city during peak periods needs to be taken.

Shona McCarthy, chief executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, said: “We still have work to do. Our world is changing rapidly, and at the Fringe Society, we’re changing how we do things.

“As I’ve said many times, we don’t have a growth agenda for the Fringe; our audience development strategy is based on the mantra of ‘one more show, not two more feet’, encouraging those already here to engage more with the festival.”

Last summer’s event attracted over three million to Scotland’s capital and was classed as one of the world’s over-tourism hotspots last summer.

As well as admitting that better approaches need to be taken to handle tourism constraints, the Fringe has also pledged to make the event more sustainable during the climate crisis.

“Maintaining the Fringe’s global outlook while minimising the festival’s carbon footprint is a challenge, but we will ensure that sustainability is embedded across all our activities,” McCarthy explained.

This eco-friendly approach has seen a reduction in the printing of Fringe programmes from 395,000 in 2017 to 350,000 in 2019, with a plan to invest in digital alternatives in the future.

“We have used technology to engage with artists around the world and reduce the need for travel, developing our online FringeCasts, a series of live streamed advice sessions for prospective Fringe artists,” McCarthy added.

“The series has massively improved our ability to reach participants abroad, with viewers tuning in from 51 countries and every continent on earth except Antarctica.”

McCarthy continued to explain that these improved approaches will require a lot of work, but by working on a shared agenda with Fringe venues, artists and fellow Edinburgh festivals, they will collectively make a difference to future Fringe Festivals.

Sticking by last year’s aim of strengthening community links across Edinburgh, McCarthy said they are “committed to finding a balance of deepening local roots and celebrating our position as one of the greatest celebration of arts and culture on the planet.”

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