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.”

Living Rent protesters call out ‘immoral’ event which claims to help Edinburgh landlords ‘maximise their profits’

 

Campaigners from tenants’ union Living Rent have branded an Edinburgh workshop which claims to help landlords maximise their profits as “immoral”.

Dozens of activists from the group protested outside of the ‘Making Money From Property’ seminar, which took place inside the Doubletree hotel on Bread Street on Thursday evening.

Protesters pointed to rising rent and the lack of affordable housing in the city, which they say has resulted in a rise in homelessness in the city.

“The event talks about maximising profits, which means maximising rent and parasitically extracting rent from students and tenants across Edinburgh,” campaigner Rufus told EN4 News.

“There’s 12,000 people on the waiting list for a single bedroom council house in Edinburgh alone and about 3,000 people on the streets.

“And so refusing to recognise that this housing crisis is part of this broader landlord movement to increase profits and extract more and more rent from people is immoral.”

Members from the union also repeated calls for the Scottish Government to introduce rent controls.

“The government needs to be held to account. It feels like the wild-west for landlords right now, and I think we need serious rent controls,” Jessica told EN4 News.

“There is a massive homelessness and housing crisis [in the city] and in the fifth richest economy in the world that’s not acceptable in any way.

“Seminars like this where people come and they’re like, ‘just buy a bunch of houses and make a bunch of money’. Houses are not there for you to make money, they’re for people and families to live in.”

Protesters at ‘Making Money From Property’ event (Credit: EN4 News)

Data from the letting agency CityLets shows that Edinburgh has seen the biggest rent rises in Scotland over the past 10 years.

The average rent in the city is £1,131 according to the figures, up from an average of £734 four years ago. In the same period, the average rent in Glasgow increased from £571 to £802.

Although the city’s homeless population has fallen by 20% over the past five years, according to figures published in April 2019, the number of homeless people in Edinburgh remains over 3,000.

The ‘Making Money from Property’ seminar was advertised by BBC presenter and property expert Martin Roberts, although the Homes Under the Hammer star did not attend Thursday’s event.

(Credit: EN4 News)

 

On its website, the event claims to help would-be landlords buy new property at auction, as well as advice on “rental and capital growth strategies” and tips on “how to maximise your profits”.

The organisers of the event have been approached by EN4 News for comment.

Protesters from Living Rent met outside the Cycle Republic shop on Morrison Street before marching to the Bread Street hotel.

Campaigner Eve added: “Housing is a fundamental human right and until you can guarantee that every tenant has a safe place to live, isn’t forced into poverty because of their rent and is protected for a series of legislative rights, then we can talk about pricing.

“But those should come first because it’s about human rights.”

Listen to campaigners explain to EN4 News why they were protesting the event, below. 

Coronavirus, police cuts and Lewis Capaldi – EN4 News’ Owen Garner covers today’s headlines

Owen Garner covers some of today’s major newspaper headlines, as Coronavirus fears continue to plague the country, and Police Scotland face major cuts in the year ahead.

Scottish SPCA launch urgent appeal to find homes for eight Edinburgh snakes

A Scottish animal welfare charity has launched an appeal to find homes for eight snakes residing in Edinburgh.

Mike Flynn, chief superintendent of the Scottish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), said that the eight rescue snakes, which are currently in the care of the Edinburgh Animal Rescue and Rehoming Centre, would require specialist care.

He warned that the reptiles’ long lifespan makes them a lifelong commitment and any prospective owners must have the correct setup.

“If the snakes become ill, then they will need to be seen by a vet specialising in exotic animals,” Flynn said. “Of course, our staff are always happy to give advice and support to new owners, especially if it’s their first time owning a reptile.”

The team at Scottish SPCA also note that regular human interaction is key to these snakes making great pets.

The eight snakes, named Stu, Steve, Scout, Smith, Grace, Scorch, Coto and Clarence, are all corn snakes, a species of rat snake. Originally from North America, corn snakes are commonly kept as pets due to their docile nature and moderate size.

Clarence the snake (Credit: SPCA)

Many people often overlook snakes as pets, which is why many need a home, explains Diane Aitcheson, manager of their current residence.

“The majority of people coming to the centre are generally looking for a more traditional furry companion, not necessarily a snake,” Aitcheson told EN4 News.

“Poor Clarence has spent almost 1,300 days in our care. He’s feisty and a fussy eater, so he’s looking for an experienced owner who can monitor his weight.”

Many of the snakes found at the centre have been injured and therefore require great care and careful handling by any future owners.

(Credit: EN4 News)

“Scorch was found as a stray with an injury which sadly resulted in him having the tip of his tail amputated,” Aitcheson went on to say. “This hasn’t held him back, and he’s incredibly friendly, happily slithering in and out of your fingers before resting over your arm.”

“All of these snakes could make brilliant companions for the right owner. We always say rescue pets make great pets and these corn snakes are no exception,” she concluded.

For more information on rehoming any of the snakes, contact the Scottish SPCA’s centre in Edinburgh on 03000 999 999.

 

Roadworks cause bin controversy in Stockbridge

Stockbridge residents have accused Edinburgh Council of “making excuses” for not collecting overflown rubbish bins on schedule.

The council released a statement this week explaining that the ongoing gasworks in the area have resulted in them being unable to collect the kerbside bins due to lorries being too large to fit alongside the construction work.

Local residents are disgusted by the overflow, with black bags spilling out onto the pavement in some places, and multiple reports of rats being spotted.

Overflowing bins (Credit: EN4 News)

“It’s just the council making excuses again,” said Eleanor McBride, who has lived on Raeburn Place for over 30 years.

“Other big vans and lorries can get down the street just fine so why can’t the bin lorries?”

Companies that have their rubbish collected by private companies have been largely unaffected despite using bin lorries that are much the same size as those used by the council.

Nadine Watson, manager of Holland & Barrett, whose bins are privately collected said: “Even though our bin isn’t being emptied every day now, it’s still being picked up maybe every two or three days.”

While the ongoing works have caused some disruption for businesses, the impact has not been as destructive as initially expected, some local shops have told EN4 News.

Privately owned collection lorry in Stockbridge (Credit: EN4 News)

Jennifer Feeney, assistant manager of pet store Just Dogs, explained that the company was braced for drastic losses, but that sales have been “about the same as usual for this time of year.”

The works on Raeburn Place are set to continue for another 20 weeks, and traffic will continue to be disrupted, with westbound traffic diverted for the remainder of the construction.

EN4 News have contacted Edinburgh Council regarding the issue and are awaiting a response

Get ready to ‘LOVE Gorgie Farm’ – Beloved family attraction set to reopen this weekend

Gorgie City Farm is set to reopen its doors tomorrow under the new name LOVE Gorgie Farm.

Improvements have already been completed to the beloved family attraction, after the farm was bought over by Scottish mental health charity LOVE Learning in January 2020.

This was following the farm announcing its liquidation in November 2019.

Speaking exclusively to EN4 News, Lorna Murphy, LOVE Learning’s Project Manager of Education services in East Lothian and Edinburgh City, explained what visitors can expect to see upon Gorgie Farm’s reopening.

“We’re making improvements to tie in with our ethos of inclusion. We are completing the disabled access to make it accessible for everyone,” Murphy said.

He plans to have a rotation of the animals on display to allow them to retire at an older age with the security of having younger creatures to bring in and grow up on the farm.

LOVE Learning has also proposed introducing animal and forest therapy as an educational package for children and those suffering from anxiety and mental health issues.

“People gain a lot of nurture and comfort from animals and by caring for something else – their mind can be taken off of personal issues,” Murphy continued.

Gorgie Farm will reopen to the public this weekend (Credit: EN4 News)

The reopening celebrations are due to take place tomorrow afternoon.

Tickets sold out rapidly and some of those in attendance include Hibs and Hearts footballers, rugby players and politicians.

Edinburgh Charity, Dads Rock, have been asked to assist LOVE Learning in reopening Gorgie Farm to the public tomorrow.

Thomas Lynch, the service manager of Dads Rock, told EN4 News of how they were frequent visitors to Gorgie Farm.

“Like most people in Edinburgh, we were devastated when we heard the farm was closing; the farm has meant so much too so many people over the years,” Lynch said.

In terms of what those attending the reopening celebrations can expect, Lynch says there is a lot to look forward to.

“We’ve got magicians, entertainers, face painting, a tombola, raffles, there’s a singer coming and we’ve got a piper. And that’s not even the half of it!”

It was also announced earlier this week that the money raised in a public fundraiser to ‘Save Gorgie Farm’ would be given to LOVE Learning upon the farm’s reopening.

Over £100,000 was raised in an attempt to prevent Gorgie Farm from closing indefinitely back in November 2019.

There was some deliberation over whether or not the money should be given to LOVE Learning, but on Thursday morning, it was announced that the charity would receive the entire sum to invest into Gorgie Farm’s upkeep and renovation.

Among those who campaigned to save Gorgie Farm, the Scottish Greens were very vocal in their desire to protect the attraction.

Alison Johnstone, Green MSP for Lothian, fought particularly hard in defence of the farm. Johnstone spoke to EN4 News about her delight at Gorgie Farm’s reopening.

“It is fantastic to see such a widely valued, much-loved community asset re-open, and so soon after it closed,” Johnstone added.

“This is a testament to the special place the farm has in the community and the hard work of everyone involved.”

Gorgie Farm will reopen tomorrow and remain open seven days a week with entry free of charge.

Holistic Ways: Enhance your mind, body and spirit with alternative and complimentary therapies at Edinburgh event

A festival specialising in alternative and complimentary therapies will return to Edinburgh for its sixth consecutive year this weekend.

Holistic Ways aims to leave visitors feeling “uplifted and refreshed” and will take place this Sunday.

Speaking exclusively to EN4 News, Adrian Boiteux, one of the founders of Holistic Ways, said the festival stands out in the industry because of the unique content of each event they offer.

(Photo provided by Holistic Ways)

“The exhibitors that we bring to the event include leading holistic, complementary and alternative therapists and a wonderful selection of health, well-being and mind-body-spirit retailers,” Adrian said.

Adrian, his wife and his father were some of the founding members of Holistic Ways back in 2012 after recognising a lack of exposure for alternative, complementary and holistic therapies.

They now host events throughout the year in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee.

The festival is taking place this Sunday from 11am until 5pm at the Edinburgh Corn Exchange, and over 40 exhibitioners will be attending, offering hypnotherapy, reflexology and deep tissue massages.

Taster sessions are available in order to provide visitors with the chance to experience the potential benefits of holistic therapies, which includes physical pain relief, improved sleeping patterns and reduced anxiety levels.

(Credit: EN4 News)

Bob and Helen Macintosh, founders of Krystalight, a retailer specialising in crystals and other holistic products, told EN4 News how important festivals such as Holistic Ways are.

“These events are extremely valuable as they give people the chance to discover – and most importantly, experience – many different disciplines, therapies and products all under one roof,” they said.

“We must never underestimate the value of human interaction, of meeting people face to face.”

The exposure that these events offer retailers and practitioners is vital to their growth.

“We find that not only does it drive traffic to our website, but people will contact us to discuss and receive advice on their specific requirements.

“In fact, we actively encourage this to ensure that customers do not impulse buy any product that may not be the most suitable for their needs.”

The festival will also feature music performances and dancers to showcase up and coming talent in Edinburgh.

Therapist Alan McIntyre, who will be in attendance on Sunday, specialises in Chinese Therapeutic Massage and believes that people must realise that no method will perform miracles in one session.

He said: “The only way to really feel profound long-term benefits from a treatment is to add it to your life as a continual help for your long-term health and wellbeing.

“Chinese Tuina medical massage is often an important M.O.T. for our client’s life’s stress relief, aches and pains.”

It is expected that Sunday’s festival will welcome between 350 and 450 people.

Following Sunday’s event, the next Holistic Ways festival will be held in Glasgow at the Trades Hall on March 21 and 22. Head over to their website to find out more information.

Edinburgh Rugby: Substance over style will do for coach Cockerill against Cardiff

Richard Cockerill has seen his side remain top of the Pro14 Conference B, despite key players being on Scotland duty (Credit: Edinburgh Rugby Twitter)

A win for Edinburgh Rugby this evening will ensure they stay top of the Pro14’s Conference B table.

Welsh team Cardiff Blues travel to BT Murrayfield for Edinburgh’s third game in three weekends, and head coach Richard Cockerill has stated that he is not too concerned about flare in the encounter.

“I’m not fussy about our style,” Cockerill said. “Substance, physicality and mentality should be ten out of ten for us, and we should go out with confidence to make sure we get our performance right.”

Both sides come into the game on the back of a win, with each side scoring five tries last weekend – Edinburgh against Connacht and Cardiff Blues against Benetton.

“They’re a half-decent side – they’ve got good players. They’re missing a few players but crikey, so are we,” Cockerill explained. “We should be well motivated since we’re on a good run, so we need to make sure we get all the basic things right.

“It’s the same as the last two weeks; the weather will be a little bit better, but we need to be really functional and practical in how we play. We just need to go and win the game; do whatever it takes to win.”

Edinburgh fly-half Simon Hickey says that the team’s defence coach, Callum McCrae, has ensured his side know what they are up against: “They are an expansive team and have the ability to shift it, get it to the edges and cause trouble that way. They’ve got some good set-piece strikes and also some good individual players.”

Hickey’s teammate, back-row Nick Haining, expressed how impressive an achievement it would be were Edinburgh to take five points from the current run of three games during the international window of the Guinness Six Nations.

“I think it’s a testament to everyone in the squad and the depth that we have to have got those results so far. It wasn’t an easy game at Scarlets, but we ground out the win, then we had a good performance against Connacht at the weekend.”

“We’re confident going into Cardiff, and we think we can really take maximum points from that and not give them anything. They’ll be a good side, but we’re in good form at the moment and we’re confident.”

Scrum-half Charlie Shiel will be handed his first Murrayfield start tonight, partnering George Taylor and James Johnstone in a new-look centre for Edinburgh.

They also welcome back Grant Gilchrist and Jamie Bhatti after Scotland duty, as part of five changes to the team from last weekend’s bonus point win against Connacht.

Gallery Review: ‘Where I Stand’ by Michael Wildman

Striking, gritty and at times vibrant, Michael Wildman’s collection of photographs provides a visceral viewing experience at the intimate Upright Gallery in Bruntsfield.

Curated from his adventures throughout South America, Wildman shines a spotlight on the continent’s various urban locales, often with a hint of human presence.

Whether it’s the silhouette of a man in a dimly lit station, a woman walking down a darkened street with birds flying overhead or a man sitting by a balcony alone, every subject appears to be in some form of quiet, lonely contemplation. This is especially apparent in his monochrome photography with the darkness surrounding the subject, only further enhancing this feeling of isolation. Even the more colourfully composed pieces retain this sense of solitude.

Mongui, Colombia, one of the pieces currently displayed at the Upright Gallery | © Michael Wildman

This was amplified by the intimacy of the venue itself. The small-scale design of the building makes you feel like you’re there with the person in frame, enabling an easier connection with them as individuals.

Wildman’s focus on the rundown, dilapidated streets of Chile and Colombia are another highlight of his work, providing a lens into the urban decay of these locations. Boarded up buildings, graffiti and discarded heirlooms are powerfully conveyed through his photography, producing emotional yet captivating imagery.

This presence can also be felt in some of the more personal pieces where even the most optimistic images contain a sense of wear and tear in the environment, making the location as much of a character as the person it shares a space with.

Whether it’s Chile or Colombia, deeply personal or purely environmental, Wildman proves himself as an exceptional photographer and a storyteller capable of conveying pure emotion in a stills image.

Exclusive: “Lifeline” parenting centre to stay open after fundraiser hits target

A community-run hub for new parents has raised over £30,000 to fund their essential move to new premises – with their current home set to be demolished, EN4 News has learned.

The Pregnancy and Parents Centre (PPC) is primarily a self-funded, donation-run organisation that runs classes and workshops for recent mums and dads. Nobody is turned away if they are unable to pay or donate.

Francesca Dymond, a trustee of the centre, told EN4 News: “It would have been much more of a financial burden if we had to use the income we’ve generated to complete the work. It was essential that we raised that money.”

Their crowdfunding page raised £26,750 and the rest was through direct donations to the centre.

The Pregnancy and Parents Centre is hoping to complete the move to 188 Pleasance and be fully operational by the beginning of March.

“It’ll be spring-time when we get in, and renovation has already started, walls have come down, floors are going in, it’s exciting,” Francesca added.

Nadine Edwards created the group in her living room in 1985, and speaking exclusively to EN4 News, she said how important the centre is to the local community: “I feel very honoured to have been part of something so important in people’s lives. Parents have said it’s been a lifeline, that they couldn’t have managed without it.”

Concept art for the new Pregnancy and Parents Centre (Credit: Pregnancy and Parents)

Francesca first discovered the centre five years ago while pregnant with her first child, and she said, “In parenthood, there’s a lot [of] anxiety, guilt and shame, but you walk in here and you know you aren’t the only one feeling like that.

“The essence of the centre is that we have built this amazing community, through our shared experiences, knowledge and relaxation.”

She said that finding the new location took more than 18 months because they were looking for something special and fairly specific, as well as affordable: “We’re very lucky in that a member of our community who used to come to the centre is an architect; she’s been helping us project manage the designs of the new place.

“It is hard when you walk into somewhere semi-derelict to imagine it being warm and welcoming.”

When asked about the classes on offer, both trustees emphasised the importance of inclusivity at the centre.

“It’s a very multicultural community,” Dymond said, “There’s a course called new arrivals, for people who are new to the city or new to Scotland, it’s run by multilingual facilitators to bring people together.”

“It must be very difficult to arrive in a country where English isn’t your first language and you’re suddenly there with a new-born or a young child.”

Credit: Pregnancy and Parents

The centre is best known for its pregnancy yoga classes and welcomes roughly 450 parents every week. They also offer active-birth and dads-to-be workshops monthly, which are very popular.

“We don’t just support pregnant women. We support parents, dads, whoever, and parents after birth as well.”

She also voiced her fears about childbirth before finding the PCC: “I came here quite fearful about what labour would be like and how I would manage this enormous thing that was going to happen to my body.

“A lot of the narratives that women hear, even before they think about getting pregnant, is that labour is this intensively medicalised thing, I think the great thing about the PPC is, that it presents alternatives. I flipped from fearful to positive very quickly.”

Nadine expressed how the PCC has developed over the last few decades: “If I was suddenly not here tomorrow it would still carry on; for me, that’s the most important thing, that it’s developed its community, it’s on ethos. I like being part of that.

“There’s a lot of pressure to be positive and happy, here you can be who you are, we often specifically say, it’s fine to be a bit down this week or to be worried about something.”

If you are interested in their services or in donating, visit the Pregnancy and Parents Centre website.

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