Fringe issue

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Pippa Bailey is dead right (your reports, 25, 26 July). The problem with the Fringe is entirely at the feet of too many greedy, smug and complacent venue owners and promoters. The exploitation of artists is legendary. What is not legendary but absolutely true is the appalling attitude towards wheelchair access into many venues.

It is easy to hide behind the familiar old lines such as “we have very old buildings” etc. If they were honest, they would add the rider “and we’re not prepared to invest ourselves, find other buildings or persuade owners to invest”.

On Tuesday, I went to the area around one of the main centres and gazed at huge boards with the listings in any one of the 14 venues managed by one promoter. I asked the ticket seller how many were accessible to wheelchair users, she kindly took my guide and was able to tick eight of these 14 (57 per cent).

The Fringe is, I’m afraid, little more than a moneymaking scheme for promoters and some venue owners. It doesn’t deserve to succeed; it sponges from the free publicity newspapers such as The Scotsman happily give it and it cares not a jot about any sort of public spirit that might be asked of it.

Fifty-seven per cent for wheelchair access is a very poor score for “The Largest Arts Festival in the World” or in your words “… Simply the Greatest Show on Earth” (25 July), taking place in Scotland in 2013.

The Fringe Society has a self-serving constitution that precludes it from putting any pressure on anyone.

So why not ask all Scotsman reviewers to include at the foot of each piece either the “disabled” symbol to mark the show as accessible or the same symbol with a cross through it if inaccessible?

I think readers would be shocked at the number of the latter printed, and things would quickly change.

Andrew Widdowson

Edinburgh

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