Edinburgh Fringe boss asks residents to house performers to help cut their costs

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A campaign has been launched to persuade the people of Edinburgh to put up performers to help drive down the soaring cost of appearing at the Fringe.

Organisers are urging local residents to “see a whole new side to the Fringe” by allowing participants to stay in a spare room.

A children's show at the Edinburgh Fringe

A children's show at the Edinburgh Fringe

However they are targeting home-owners interested in “sharing a unique experience” with the creators of the Fringe, rather than people looking to make any financial gain.

The campaign is being launched a year after Fringe Society chief executive Shona McCarthy warned the event was at risk of becoming unaffordable for artists and needed a city-wide effort to re-balance its “delicate ecosystem”.

She also announced that both Queen Margaret and Edinburgh Napier universities have agreed to offer accommodation to artists and participants “below the market value” this August.

The society hopes to capitalise on the large local audience for the festival by persuading people to offer to share their home to an official artist or participant at “minimal cost”.

Latest figures show that around a third of people in Edinburgh attend Fringe shows each year, with around 600,000 tickets sold locally, out of more than 2.8 million admissions across the festival.

The Fringe Society has struck up an official partnership with TheatreDigsBooker, a website which aims to find easy, safe and affordable accommodation for touring theatre professionals. Around 100 private home-owners have already registered with the TheatreDigsBooker site, which has rooms available for £500 a month in August.

Ms McCarthy said: “We’re committed to making accommodation more affordable for artists at the Fringe and I’m delighted to announce this 
important step in tackling one of the biggest issues participants face.

“In partnership with TheatreDigsBooker’s online platform, we’re reaching out to the residents of Edinburgh to register their property and host an artist in their spare room.

“Over a third of residents visit the Fringe during August and this is another way they can engage and support the artists that make this festival diverse, inclusive and amazing.

“Ensuring that those participating, including performers, producers and technical staff can continue to bring incredible work to our city each year, irrespective of background or financial status. It’s also a fantastic opportunity to see the Fringe in a whole new light.”

Phil Barley, founder of the TheatreDigsBooker site, said: “The team and I are really excited to be working with the Fringe. We love the festival and everything that it brings to the theatre industry. We hope that pooling our combined resources will make finding and booking accommodation for the Fringe easier than ever and make a genuine difference to participants experience.”

Full details of the initiative are available at www.theatredigsbooker.com