Let's Have a Moan About the Festivals

Harry Giles, 28 July 2012

Let's Have a Moan about the Festivals

Agnieska, Fiona, Harry, Maria

I called this session because I find that most Edinburgh-based artists moan about the Edinburgh Festivals - especially the Fringe - quite regularly. I wanted to see if there were any real big issues, and any way we could moan productively. Very few people came along, which may mean that there weren't, or that we can't, or just that other issues were bigger. But here's some questions that arose:

Do the Festivals damage the year-round arts scene? They certainly suck in energy from months either side. Does the focus on their prestige reduce support for projects the rest of the year? Does the reliance on August income damage financial sustainability, raise rents? Is the problem just for theatre, or most of our arts? How can we fix it? Will our year-round audiences collapse unless we do audience development through smaller year-round venues? Which bodies would be interested in helping fix it? Should we commission an Edinburgh theatre review? Does having these big festival trees damage the grassroots?

Are they any good for artists? Many people come away inspired, energised, delighted, full of art. And may come away demoralised, bankrupt, depressed, disengaged. IS there a way to prevent the latter without closing off programming? How

can we be honest to artists about what's possible here? How can we create artists' spaces on the Fringe? Can we?

These questions all came from a love of the festivals, from a respect for what they do, from genuine excitement. Can we make them better? Should we? Can we moan better?



festivals, fringe, edinburgh