Call for cheap festival tickets for Edinburgh residents

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CAPITAL residents should be compensated for the disruption of festival season with cheap tickets, Tories have urged.

Lothians Conservative MSP Miles Briggs said Edinburgh residents should be given discounted entry to Festival and Fringe shows as a goodwill gesture from organisers.

Edinburgh Festival  2018 big clear up across the city. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Edinburgh Festival 2018 big clear up across the city. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

He said both events were continuing to grow and become more lucrative.

This year was another record-breaker for the Fringe, with ticket sales up five per cent to more than 2.8 million.

Mr Briggs said some individual venues already offered reduced-price tickets to residents, but he argued the practice should be extended to the whole Edinburgh International Festival and the Fringe.

He claimed that while people living in Edinburgh are largely in favour of the festival and the benefits it brings, many were complaining of increased inconvenience. He argued it was important to keep local people on board. He said: “It’s great news that the fringe and festival continue to go from strength to strength and put Edinburgh and Scotland on the map as home to one of the world’s best spectacles.

“It’s getting bigger and better, and people who live in the city are pleased to see that continue. However, there’s no question that as more people flock to the city the level of inconvenience and hassle increases for those who live and work here.

“It’s important we retain the goodwill of residents, and one way of doing that would be to offer discounted tickets across the board to those who can prove they live here – almost like a festival dividend. I have written to both festivals to see if they will consider putting this in place for next year.

“The success of these events is commendable. And it’s important we examine the opportunities and challenges they pose to people and businesses. We need an honest dialogue on how to get the balance right.”

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society said over the past few years it, and venues across the city, had taken a number of measures to make the Fringe as affordable as possible for locals and visitors alike.

“In addition to the 697 free shows, 260 pay-what-you-want shows and 1200 street events taking place this year on the Fringe, the society has worked with 29 community groups across Edinburgh to distribute £50,000 of Fringe ticket and transport vouchers to those that have never experienced the Fringe before; artists have provided thousands of free tickets for young people in the Edinburgh care system and offered 2-for-1 tickets on the first Monday and Tuesday of the Fringe and through our Half Price Hut; and the venue network have organised a number of Edinburgh-specific discounts for residents.

“The Fringe contributes £144m to the Edinburgh economy each year and we are always exploring new and innovative ways of offering our audiences value for money.”