Edinburgh Festival Fringe must be saved! – Steve Cardownie

The recent warnings about the future viability of the Fringe Festival recently issued by its chief executive, Shona McCarthy, must send a shiver down the collective spine of the city centre hospitality sector.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe entertainers perform on the Royal Mile in 2019 (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

The last thing it needs just now, after all it has had to put up with, is the loss of one of summer’s greatest cash cows.

Cancelled for the first time in 75 years last year, another cancellation could prove to be catastrophic and could deliver a blow of such magnitude that it may never recover.

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Estimated to be worth £1 billion to the Scottish economy, its financial benefits to the city have been demonstrated time after time.

If the current two-metre rule for venues is not reduced to the one-metre rule set for the hospitality industry then, according to McCarthy, a second year of the festival being cancelled means “you jeopardise the solid space the Fringe has held for 75 years”.

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A Scottish government spokeswoman said “ We are reviewing physical distancing and an announcement of the outcome of this review is due ahead of the planned move to level one on June 7. Physical distancing has been an important tool for controlling the virus but as with all restrictions we will only have this in place for as long as is necessary.”

The three-week-long Fringe Festival is internationally renowned with almost 4,000 shows taking place in over 300 venues in 2019 – maintaining its reputation as the world’s largest arts festival.

We cannot afford to lose it, culturally or economically!

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