Edinburgh Festival Fringe fans urged to let performers stay at their homes for free

Frenchman Antoine Siggen performs on the Royal Mile at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Picture: Jane Barlow

Frenchman Antoine Siggen performs on the Royal Mile at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Picture: Jane Barlow

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Edinburgh Festival Fringe enthusiasts would be asked to put up performers for free under a new scheme aimed at cutting the costs of staging shows in the city.

The event is considering the introduction of a new “adopt an artist” scheme in time for its 70th anniversary in 2017.

Fringe chief Shona McCarthy has floated the 'adopt an artist' scheme. Photograph: Jane Barlow

Fringe chief Shona McCarthy has floated the 'adopt an artist' scheme. Photograph: Jane Barlow

Organisers believe such a scheme could help address long-standing complaints about the price of accommodation in the city in August while helping unknown acts make their way at the event.

It would offer an alternative to the traditional route of hiring one of the hundreds of private flats which are made available via the Fringe.

Shona McCarthy, who was appointed Fringe chief executive in January, has floated the “altruistic” idea, insisting she did not envisage any charges being imposed on visiting performers. She said she hoped it would appeal to festival regulars willing to help potential stars of the future get their careers off the ground.

However, she has ruled out the prospect of the event creating its own letting or accommodation agency to try to curb the prices being charges in the city in August.

A report into the future of Edinburgh’s festivals, published last May, called for “new accommodation capacity” to be created to help plug gaps at the “low-cost and luxury ends of the market”.

McCarthy said the challenge of tackling the cost of accommodation was raised during her interview. But she said the festival was largely limited to setting a maximum fee for private landlords who want to register for its list of recommended accommodation providers. According to its website, no more than £150 per person per week should be charged.

McCarthy said: “Accommodation costs will rise and fall according to the market. I honestly don’t think we can get too involved other than encouraging landlords not to charge over the odds and encouraging things like new camping offers.

“People will find a way to come to the Fringe. It’s almost part of the process. I’ve been that punter myself, on the phone to mates in Edinburgh saying, ‘Go on, can I have a place on your sofa?’

“We’re going to be talking to local people about an ‘adopt an artist’ programme. I’ve already floated it among friends who have homes here. Loads of them are really up for it. It is about asking people to consider putting up an artist who could become the next greatest thing. You could be giving them a start in life by offering them a room. It would be an altruistic thing – an investment back into the Fringe.”

A spokeswoman for Edinburgh City Council said: “This is another interesting suggestion from the Fringe. We look forward to seeing if it attracts interest from Edinburgh’s residents.”