New poll suggests three quarters of residents believe the Fringe makes Edinburgh a better place to live

Three out of every four people living in Scotland's capital believe that its hosting of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe makes the city a better place to live, a new opinion poll carried out for the event has suggested.

Monday, 31st January 2022, 4:55 am
Updated Monday, 31st January 2022, 8:16 am
Edinburgh Festival Fringe entertainers perform on the Royal Mile in 2017. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Edinburgh Festival Fringe entertainers perform on the Royal Mile in 2017. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

The survey was carried out in the aftermath of a scaled-down revival of the event last year. Around 80 per cent of all respondents said they felt the Fringe made Edinburgh more attractive to visit.

And 84 per cent said they would happily recommend the event to other people.

Nearly two thirds of those polled said they valued the Fringe more due to the impact of the Covid pandemic.

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Shona McCarthy is chief executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Around 86 per cent of people said they were likely to attend at least one event in 2022, when the event will celebrate its 75th anniversary, along with the International Festival.

Fringe Society chief executive Shona McCarthy pledged there would be a focus this year on "building a renaissance for this important and much-loved festival”.

The independent survey was carried out in the autumn by the leading Scottish market research company Scotinform.

The 2019 Fringe was the biggest in the history of the event, with the 3841 shows staged across 323 venues attracting a three million strong audience to the festival for the first time.

In recent years, around a third of the Fringe’s audience was drawn from Edinburgh, with 22 per cent from elsewhere in Scotland, with another third across the rest of the UK and seven per cent from overseas. According to the Fringe Society’s official box office figures in 2019, a record 856,541 tickets were sold to people in the city.

Ms McCarthy said there had been "bouyed by an incredible outpouring of love" for the event since Covid struck in the spring of 2020 and wiped out that year's festival.

Efforts by the Fringe Society, venue operators and show producers to revive the event in 2021 were dogged by difficulties caused by uncertainty over what Covid restrictions would still be in place.In the end, physical distancing at live events in Scotland was not dropped until Fringe venues had opened and shows had started running.

However nearly 400,000 tickets were sold for the 528 in-person shows which ended up being registered for the 2021 programme.

The survey was instigated to help the Fringe Society plan ahead for 2022 and beyond.

Ms Shona McCarthy said: “There’s no doubt the last two years have been hard.

"But throughout it all, we have been buoyed by an incredible outpouring of love for the Fringe - from our artists, our audiences and our city.

"This survey shows how important the Fringe is to residents and festival-goers alike, and demonstrates how the pandemic brought its value into even sharper focus.

“There’s been so much understandable anxiety in the sector around audiences returning to live performance.

"These figures - combined with the recent lifting of restrictions - give us reason to be cautiously optimistic that a brighter future for the arts is round the corner.

“As we go into our 75th year, we’ll be focusing on building a renaissance for this important and much-loved festival.

"This survey reinforces what we’ve always known: the Fringe means an awful lot to so many groups of people, and I can’t wait to celebrate its return in the summer.”