Claire Smith: Be nice… let’s not spoil the magic that is the Fringe
I’VE BEEN accused this week of censoring a columnist after dropping an article on the economics of the Fringe by ex-jockey, promoter and flagrant self-publicist Bob Slayer.
Actually, I did like the column, which was about how much performers are shelling out to be in Edinburgh, and I was astounded by his ability to concentrate – which I never expected.
But newspapers are rapacious beasts and news is like the mail: “It never stops” in the words of US postal worker Newman from the TV series Seinfeld.
So in between Bob writing the article and the day it was due to go to print, a veritable storm erupted, thanks to the confusing outpourings of Official Fringe Miserabilist Stewart Lee. Suddenly everyone was talking about performers losing money for the sake of being here.
As Festivals Edinburgh director Faith Liddell said to me wearily: “It’s a story that comes around every year.”
And yet this year has been different – largely because of some particularly bad-tempered broadsides flying between rival venue managers. There have also been some unbelievable tales floating around on blogs about the lavish velvet- lined rooms where “official” journalists are plied with alcohol while PR dollies do the dance of the seven veils. “If only,” said one exhausted reviewer, crying into his cheese sandwich.
We all know the Fringe is a great big money pit. There is no doubt some performers are getting locked into crazy contracts and running up crazy debts. Having said that, it is also a great big summer camp, where for three weeks performers can hone their craft, people can meet their heroes and we can all drink beer until five in the morning. This is hard to reinterpret as a viable economic model. In fact, it is a miracle it happens at all.
It’s time to get real – and Edinburgh needs to do its bit to keep this magical life-affirming show on the road. Let’s all make a pact not to rip people off, to help people out, to pay our way. And for once, in the words of Neil Innes: “Let’s make up and be friendly.”
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Weather for Edinburgh
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 9 C to 20 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North