Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2021 – A Success for Performers?
If you’d said back in April that there would be a fringe, let alone that there would be one that has been so successful for so many I think most in the arts and ents world here in Scotland and the UK would have thought you were crazy. An imbecile! Someone who stares too long at the sun…
But yet, here we are in September and all I’ve heard on the whole are stories about the Fringe that bucked the trend. The Fringe where shows sold out and folks were scrambling for tickets. The fringe where everyone worked their socks off but had a great time.
I’m a magician, so I know that world well enough, but comedians were storming it, theatre shows were selling out, kids performers were being over run… So what happened? Why did it work this year?
I have a few theories.
There were perhaps a fifth of the shows that are normally on at the fringe. These shows were working mainly to reduced capacity audiences. So if we hash through the maths… We have 20% of tickets on sale, but taking into consideration reduced capacities then we’re looking at about 13% of tickets actually available. Now realise that 50% of Fringe audiences come from Scotland and you see that for the first time in a long time there’s now a strong chance of their being more folks that want to see shows than there are tickets available…
Now remove the Tattoo from the mix, (sometimes 10,000 tickets a night) and a hugely reduced EIF programme (in 2019 it was 420,000 and well you’ve now got a fringe that doesn’t have that much to compete against…
Audience willing to get out
All the folks that have been pent up during lockdown now have a chance to get out and see shows! OK, there are those that perhaps are a bit timid to be in a room with 100 others but there are also a huge number that can’t wait to get back to it. The Fringe gave them this chance.
I guess after 18 months of shit we needed this. We needed a sliver lining, to bring hope (and finance) to future projects. But it just came right out of the blue.
Joyce McMillan, the veteran Fringe reviewer picked up on the enhanced vibe in her articles and tweets. Producers were boasting on the EdFringe Performers’ Facebook Forum about how many tickets they’d shifted (they always do).
The show to audience ratio was dramatically righted for many. And although I’m sure there were those that didn’t have a great year my own personal experience and that of those close to me was positive. Long may that continue!