Edinburgh Fringe set for administrative reform

This article is from 2010.

Edinburgh Fringe set for administrative reform

As the Fringe considers plans for an administrative shake-up, what does their new inclusive approach actually mean for the acts performing there?

FROM a homosexual Jesus to Jane Austen’s Guide to Pornography, the Fringe has never been short of controversy when it comes to its acts. There was disappointment then, last year, when the headlines still focussed on the Fringe’s administration over the performers themselves. Despite making improvements after the technical breakdown of 2008, the Fringe box office still faced problems in 2009, much to the frustration of both audiences and performers. Venues were overbooked; old systems appeared to be failing.
Dogged by rumours of cashflow problems and with new chief executive, Kath Mainland, just in the door, changes this year were inevitable.

Earlier this month it emerged that following a poll of performers, promoters and venues, Fringe heads are mooting the possibility of giving all participants the opportunity to have a direct say in the organisation, by allowing each company booking a slot to become an official Fringe Society member.

Other suggestions included the hiring of a special board of directors, with specialist knowledge of the arts, as well as the potential appointment of a patron, to give additional credibility.

Experts were also needed to help with sponsorship and IT systems, the report suggested.

Fringe director Kath Mainland has echoed many of the concerns, agreeing that it’s time to make the Fringe system ‘fit for purpose’, adding that it was important for the Fringe Society constitution, written in 1969, to move with the times. ‘The world’s largest and most high-profile arts festival needs a structure that is fit for purpose and this process will deliver the changes needed to make that happen,’ she said.

Mainland added: ‘The Fringe does not belong to any one individual or organisation. The Society was established to provide support and advice for all participants, provide comprehensive information and ticketing for everyone taking part and to raise the profile of the Fringe.’

While the idea of change seemed to be met positively by many, questions are still being raised, with one Fringe actor asking for clearer definitions from Fringe heads. Wishing to remain unnamed he said: ‘So much of the Fringe is built on good will. Most acts know they aren’t coming to make money. Any closer involvement with the Fringe administration seems a good thing, but it’s not just about what’s written down, it’s about the logistics of what a change like that would actually mean for the acts. When they have some clarity on that, I’ll be interested in what they have to say.’


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