The future of the Edinburgh Fringe festival is hanging in the balance due to rising costs, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society’s chief executive Shona McCarthy has said.
“It’s not an exaggeration to say that this festival is under existential threat,” said McCarthy, speaking on Barry Fearn’s Leading Conversations podcast.
“We’ve come into 2023 with a massive cost-of-living hike, serious political issues and the war in Ukraine. My big fear for Scotland is that because we’ve evolved over 75 years, it’s really easy to just assume that we’ll be back next year. There’s definitely a level of complacency about it.”
The Edinburgh Fringe’s comments come as the UK’s second-biggest arts festival, Vault Festival in Waterloo, London, also faces the threat of closure after their landlords turfed the festival out from next year to prioritise more commercial work.
Commenting on the Vault Festival news, Chris Snow, head of artist services for Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society told City A.M. he was “saddened.”
“Vault Festival is a vibrant, brilliant and important addition to the Fringe landscape, often providing a platform for artists before or after a trip to Edinburgh,” he said.
“We are saddened by the news that they won’t be able to return to their iconic venue next year, and really hope they find a new home soon.”
City A.M. has launched a campaign to support the Vault Festival into 2024 and beyond. The cast of Bridgerton have spoken about the importance of the festival as one of the biggest supporters of new talent in the country, as has The Crown’s Emma Corrin.
Bridgerton’s Nicola Coughlan said losing Vault Festival “would be a devastating loss for the theatre community.”
Emma Corrin added: “It’s incredibly important. It’s where a lot of new work originates, where a lot of new voices can be heard. I think that’s integral in keeping the fabric of theatre alive.”
The arts are a huge bolster to the UK economy. Every pound of public funding going into the arts brings in £5 in tax contributions, according to the Arts Council, and the most recent figures show an annual return of £2.35 billion to the Treasury.
Read more at City A.M. Life&Style
Read more: A landlord who supports the arts on why it’s essential for London to keep festivals like Vault alive