I found out yesterday that whilst I was in my moose cave tap tapping out my latest blog post on Sunday night, outside the aurora borealis was flagrantly cavorting across the sky for most of the British Isles to see! And I bloody missed it! Aargh.
Something I didn’t miss recently, but kinda wish I had, was an article in The Scotsman about the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Apparently there were “…. two years without a Fringe ….” I had to go back and read it again, err, no, just one, sweetie. Yes, I know it’s not a big deal, but it is sloppy, okay, so Fringe 2021 was rather different but it was a Fringe – I didn’t just dream those twenty six shows I saw. All those performers that came up and put on shows, and had a great time with very appreciative audiences, I think they’d agree there was a Fringe in 2021.
I know there’s plenty times that we all tend to plonk the whole Covid thing into one hazy block of time, confusing those things we did in 2019 as just being a couple of years ago; but a written article in a national newspaper should get little things right, like how many Fringes didn’t happen. If you want to be really picky, there were shows online in 2020. Yes, against all adversities some shows did go on, surely the true spirit of Fringeyness?
The same article seemed (to me reading it) to place accommodation costs as a high factor to why tickets sales were down by 25% in 2022. Hmmm, they’ll be a big factor this year without doubt, for the number of tickets on sale and sold. Unless Edinburgh Council do something soon I reckon plenty of performers and companies will decide it’s too costly to stay in Edinburgh in August, or the hoops they’d have to jump through daily to make things barely manageable really wouldn’t be worth the hassle. That all means there could be fewer shows, ergo, fewer tickets on sale, which may lead to the percentage of tickets on sale being sold being higher. A good headline for a positive spin, the actual number of tickets sold would be more honest; the most telling statistic will be how many fewer seats there are compared to previous years.
Yes, it’s those Damned Statistics again, always being misused to fit storylines. Accommodation costs were just one of many reasons why ticket sales fell last year. Ticket prices had taken a leap up, especially in the larger venues, after all running costs would have gone up (especially after the big bruha pre-covid about venue staff conditions and pay), so maybe Fringe-goers were being pickier about the number of big shows they went to and tried more on the free side of the Fringe – same number of bums on seats just some of those bums don’t get counted!
There’s the big rise of the hybrid Pay What You Want as well. Only the tickets bought in advance to guarantee a seat would be counted, but what about all the other seats that are filled by the other queue of folk just taking a chance of getting in? Numbers and percentages of tickets sold are only part of the story. Let’s not forget that Friends of the Fringe two for one tickets, the Two for One days and Half Price Hut tickets, may be great for the punters and for getting shows seen (and pushing up the numbers of tickets sold), but they won’t make the shows the money they need.
Last year must have seen a decline in Half Price Hut tickets being sold, seeing how their availability was somewhat curtailed by having them sold at the Fringe office which shut at six, so missing out on plenty of potential evening Fringers. That was a particular bugbear of mine – really, nothing else could have been sorted? No business could be found to sponsor a new Hut? Did they think to look?
Enough, I need to climb out of this rabbit hole I’ve fallen into and go to my bed. I’ll leave you with something to brighten up all the gloomy greyness – it’s three years today since Logan’s Close released the sublime Lost In You. Three years since it first blew me away in The Caves, oh, if I had a time machine….