Whistleblowing site launches to '˜expose' Fringe exploitation

Performers, producers, technicians, front-of-house staff and flyerers have been urged to post anonymous accounts of sharp practice. Picture: TSPL
Performers, producers, technicians, front-of-house staff and flyerers have been urged to post anonymous accounts of sharp practice. Picture: TSPL

A new “whistleblower” website has been set up to expose the alleged exploitation and abuse of people working at the heart of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Long hours, poor pay and unsafe working conditions are all being targeted by the online campaign. Performers, producers, technicians, front-of-house staff and even flyerers have been urged to come forward with anonymous accounts of sharp practice.

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The campaign wants to highlight those it accuses of profiteering, including landlords, hoteliers, artistic directors and venue owners. Artists and other festival workers are being urged to post anonymous complaints naming and shaming the worst offenders.

The Fringe Whistleblower site has been launched less than a week into the 70th Fringe. It has been created by an un-named collective of artists and producers who are “increasingly dismayed” at the current state of the festival.

Performers, producers, technicians, front-of-house staff and flyerers have been urged to post anonymous accounts of sharp practice. A survey on the site asks festival workers which venue they are working in, how many hours a day they are working on average, whether they are being paid or not, and whether they get any additional benefits.

It states: “We’re interested in stories of poor and unsafe working conditions, bad pay, breaches in employment law, stories of just being miserable and exhausted, lies told by venues and producers, extortionate charges, and any other sort of bad experience you could have. Most artists do not get paid at the Fringe: in fact, many lose money.

“Many venue staff work in very difficult working and sometimes unlawful conditions, including 12 hour shifts for six or seven days a week with minimal pay.

“Meanwhile, landlords and hoteliers make vast sums of money, arts administrators can cream off their wages, and some artistic directors of for-profit and not-for-profit venues take a handsome cut. Those making a profit from the Fringe are doing so through exploiting artists and front-line workers.

“We want to document this in two ways: by collecting anonymous stories of abuse and exploitation at the Fringe, and by starting to gather information about the actual working conditions of front-line Fringe staff.”