Do WE need some sort of “parades commission” to look at how protests at Edinburgh Festival Fringe productions can be managed effectively?
I noted the dilemma faced by chief executive Kath Mainland at the organisation’s AGM (your report, 20 August).
It was essentially that the right to freedom of artistic expression has to be balanced against the right to protest, and that the management of each individual venue need to “take their own position on how they want to pull their programmes together”.
This issue is now serious enough to warrant in future the very closest co-operation between the Fringe Society, individual venues, the police and those who organise these demonstrations.
I don’t know how much satisfaction the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign took from their efforts to prevent various performances going ahead, but clearly a difficult precedent has been set.
It does not seem to be unreasonable that these protests should be conducted in a way that does not prevent public access to the venues; that campaign literature should be handed out in a civilised way; that the protesters’ aim should be to communicate a view and not harass and intimidate performance-goers, and that police should help ensure that the Fringe retains its reputation for artistic freedom, humour, tolerance and insight.
Its reputation on the international stage has suffered because of this controversy; it needs to develop a new code to prevent a recurrence.