Edinburgh Fringe laughs off predictions of ruin

Fringe ticket sales are down just one per cent from last year
Fringe ticket sales are down just one per cent from last year
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REPORTS of the Fringe’s death may have been exaggerated, with the latest figures showing ticket sales just one per cent down on last year.

The London Olympics, coupled with one of the worst summers on record, were cited as possible factors when many venues reported a significant drop in ticket sales during the first week.

However, the conclusion of the Games saw a boost in audience numbers and figures released by the Fringe office yesterday showed more than 1.8 million tickets issued, with more shows still to take place. These figures also do not include tickets for free shows.

The latest figures show that 1,857,202 tickets were issued this year, compared with 1,877,119 in 2011.

Kath Mainland, chief executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society said: “The Fringe has shown its resilience in responding so positively to the unique challenges of 2012. The loyal and enthusiastic audience has once again been treated to the most amazing cultural experience.”

While some venues still saw an overall drop in sales, the general feeling about the festival was positive.

Tommy Sheppard, managing director of The Stand, said: “Despite being five per cent down on last year, 2012 has actually been our second best ever Fringe. I’m delighted, especially considering the gubbing we took in the first week. I’m also very chuffed overall with our first year running the Assembly Rooms. I had a target in my head of 100,000 tickets and we’re only about one per cent off that.

“I’ll be the first to admit we had some teething problems, but we learned as we went along.”

Anthony Alderson, artistic director for the Pleasance, said: “Figures have been rising and we are delighted that the final two weeks this year have been better than this time last year, with the penultimate Saturday having record attendances. Overall we have equalled last year’s audience figures.”

A spokesman for The Gilded Balloon said: “Despite the potential problems with the Olympic overlap, our sales are on track with 2011, with only a one per cent drop.”

The Edinburgh Book 
Festival also revealed it had its busiest year ever, with record-breaking attendance and book sales up by three per cent.

However, not everyone had seen a rally in sales, with the Acoustic Music Centre reporting an 11 per cent drop on last year.

It was also announced yesterday that the next chair of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society will be Professor Sir Timothy O’Shea, the principal and vice-chancellor of Edinburgh University.

Ms Mainland said: “Sir Timothy has been a long-standing supporter of the Fringe and I am sure that he will be a brilliant leader of the society and our board in years to come.”

Sir Timothy added: “The University of Edinburgh has enjoyed a long, proud and happy association with the Fringe and I am delighted to be more involved as the Fringe builds on its huge success and popularity.”