How to spend money and fail to influence people at the Fringe - Vladimir McTavish

Of course, if anybody were to seriously consider losing six hundred grand, one surefire way to dispose of the loot would be to stage ten Edinburgh Fringe shows.
Festival publicity can prove costlyFestival publicity can prove costly
Festival publicity can prove costly

This year’s festival is still two weeks away, but already I have heard at least two radio features where performers have been bemoaning the cost of putting on their shows.

This is hardly news. The same complaints have been heard for well over 20 years. Back in the late nineties, a well-known comedian calculated that if they had paid each audience member a fiver they would have lost less money than they did selling tickets for their show. So where does the money go? Good question.

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Renting a flat in the city in August has always been costly, but the amounts being charged these days are astronomical. I’m very fortunate on two counts. Firstl I’m an Edinburgh resident so I haven’t had to sell one of my kidneys to pay to a letting agent. Second I am doing a show for The Stand’s New Town Theatre, and the deal they offer artist makes it impossible to lose money on production costs.

Other people are less fortunate. The room hires charged by venues such as The Pleasance and the Underbelly can be crippling. Even so, it should be possible to turn a profit on box office sales. Unless you employ someone to do PR. Those massive posters that line The Mound don’t come cheap, but they do massage the performers’ egos before the bill arrives.

Much of the street advertising is sold by a firm called Out Of Hand. Through The Nose would be a more accurate name. This overhype is no guarantee of quality. Just because someone’s face is on the side of a bus, it doesn’t mean their show is any good.

One organisation that does make huge profits from the Fringe each year is Edinburgh University, through the rents paid to them by venue promoters.

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Two weeks ago, students were protesting outside McEwan Hall about receiving unclassified degrees and chanting “pay your staff” at graduation ceremonies.

Two weeks from now, that same part of the city will be overflowing with tourists inadvertently pouring cash into the university. Will that money go to offering their staff a better deal? What do you think?

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