Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society chief executive Shona McCarthy claims the annual event faces an “existential threat” as a result of soaring costs.
Despite being set to benefit from the £8m support for Edinburgh’s Festivals announced by the Government as part of its Spring Budget, McCarthy claims the festival still faces serious issues due to cost-of-living hike, political issues and the war in Ukraine.
Speaking on Barry Fearn’s Leading Conversations podcast, McCarthy said every participant and organisation involved in last year’s festival was in debt as a result of the pandemic.
“It’s not an exaggeration to say that this festival is under existential threat,” said McCarthy. “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.”
McCarthy said the are misconceptions in the way in which the Fringe is currently organised: “If you were trying to put on the collective of our festivals and put it out to a competition or tender like you do with the UK City of Culture, the World Cup, Eurovision, every city would want to host it, but it would come with a £100 million investment package.”
This year’s Edinburgh Fringe takes place from 4-28 August in venues across the city. The Government’s funding is expected to go towards the creation of a permanent HQ for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.