Fringe venues hope for bumper sales now Olympics finished

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Venues across the Fringe are hoping for a bumper week after Olympic fever saw audience numbers fall.

Audiences have been glued to the London Games for the past fortnight, which has left many promoters struggling to fill venue seats.

Now the Games are over, however, it’s hoped that all eyes will return to the world’s largest arts festival, with venues expecting to see a significant boost over the next fortnight.

Assembly confirmed to the Evening News that their ticket sales had been down in the first week. Director William Burdett-Coutts said: “We were pretty rammed on Saturday, but the other days have been much quieter than normal.

“The rain hasn’t helped, especially on Sunday, but I think the predominant issue has been the Olympics.

“However, some of our shows are doing exceptionally well and we’re very hopeful things will pick up in the next couple of weeks.”

Tommy Sheppard, managing director of The Stand venues, who this year also took over the Assembly Rooms on George Street, added: “The walk up midweek was sluggish, but advance sales are still strong – I’m beginning to think there was an Olympic effect on the local audience.

“I have friends who ought to know better who seem to have developed a mysterious interest in canoeing and Tai Kwon Do. But I can’t say anything definitive until we get more matured sales.”

Alex Petty, festival director of the Laughing Horse, part of the Free Fringe, said: “There’s been more shows experiencing highs and lows this year, with some very busy shows and some quiet ones – and at the moment we think that audiences are fluctuating given the very nice weather, possibly the Olympics, and the fact there is a much bigger market for free shows this year, so shows need to promote harder.”

A spokeswoman for the Gilded Balloon said: “Over the first week we were down on sales, but in line with expectation for the Olympic overlap – around ten per cent down, but all signs indicate that we will pull the deficit back once the Olympics are over.”

However, not all venues were feeling the Olympic fallout.

Anthony Alderson, artistic director at The Pleasance, said: “Despite figures being slightly behind for the first week, the second half of the festival is up compared to last year this time. We’re really proud of the quality of programming this year and the fantastic reviews shows are receiving.”

A spokesperson for Just the Tonic declined to give numbers, but reported ticket sales so far had been strong.

And Charles Pamment, creative director of theSpaceUK, operating several venues around the Festival, said: “Contrary to the stories in the media about the impact of the Olympics, sitting at towards the end of week one, theSpace venues are seeing more audiences coming through the doors than last year.

“Across our 14 theatres the uplift at this stage in the Festival is up about ten per cent on 2011. There are already some notable success stories in the form of sellout shows from a range of companies. We look forward to many more of those over the course of the month.”

Jumping through hoops for your attention

Commedia dell’Arte - a form of theatre characterised by masked “types” – which began in Italy in the 16th century has arrived in Edinburgh for the Fringe.

Riccardo Pumpo as Pantalone, Anna Panzone as Brighella, Alex Luttley as Arlecchino and Danielle Farrow as Dottore are performing at the Italian Cultural Institute, Nicolson Street.

The mask exhibition features interactive performances, taking the audience on a unique journey of discovery into a traditional Italian craft.

The event runs from today until August 25, except Sundays, at noon, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm.

Tickets cost £6 and £5 for concessions. Children go free.