Edinburgh University’s Fringe benefits more than double in a decade

Picture: Fringe meet the media at the Appleton Tower, Edinburgh university.
Picture: Fringe meet the media at the Appleton Tower, Edinburgh university.
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Edinburgh University made £2.45 million from festival related activities in 2018, new figures obtained through a Freedom of Information request have revealed.

The institution has seen income rocket as the university uses more of its buildings and facilities as venues for the various festivals in the city.

When compared to 2004’s income of £100,639, the university has seen the proportional income from festivals through its commercial arm rise from 1.7 per cent to 13 per cent in 15 years.

The university operates its venues and accommodation during the city’s festivals through its subsidiary company, UoE Accommodation Ltd (UoEAL).

This firm is described as the vehicle for the University’s “commercial exploitation” of its facilities, including all commercial activity relating to accommodation, catering and events.

The company has seen its turnover rocket in the last 15 years, from just over £5m in 2003/04 to nearly £19m in 2017/18. Since 2008, the university has seen its festival income more than double, from nearly £1.1m a decade ago to £2.45m in 2018.

The university’s most recent accounts show a profit of more than £4m from the operations of UoEAL. All profit created by the company is donated with gift aid back to the University itself.

Earlier this year, the university banned the controversial Fringe company C Venues from using its buildings after it was branded the worst employer at the Fringe. C Venues had used the University owned Adam House on Chambers Street as its main venue for nearly 20 years.

The move followed a review by the University into “terms and conditions around staff employment” at the venue, after pressure from the Fringe campaign group, Fair Fringe.

Helping festivals go from strength to strength

An Edinburgh University spokesman said, “The University is proud to play a vital role in the cultural life of the city. As part of this, it provides access to teaching and other buildings across the university, providing a diverse range of venues for the city’s festivals.

“This helps the festivals go from strength to strength and delivers a top quality experience for Edinburgh residents as well as those who visit to enjoy the programme of events.”

Edinburgh University did not answer questions about how the income or any profit from the activities is specifically spent, nor respond to questions about whether the company had set targets for future growth through festival activities.