Edinburgh Fringe draws to a close, ticket sales one percent downDate: 28 August 2012
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2012 has come to an end and the stats are once again eye-watering – this year’s festival featured a total of 42,096 performances of 2,695 shows in 279 venues across the city.
Pre-festival worries about the effect of the Olympics on ticket sales proved largely unfounded – the Fringe Society has announced that, by Monday afternoon (27 August), an estimated 1,857,202 tickets had been issued for shows, events and exhibitions, a decrease of only 1% on last year.
Kath Mainland, Chief Executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, said: “Over the past 25 days, audiences from Edinburgh, Scotland, the rest of the UK and around the world have been inspired and entertained by world-class performers, writers and artists in the largest celebration of art and culture in the world.
“I’m delighted to say that the Fringe is in fantastic health, with over 1.8 million tickets issued and many thousands of audiences attending over 814 free events across the city. The Fringe has shown its resilience in responding so positively to the unique challenges of 2012. The loyal and enthusiastic audience has once again been treated to the most amazing cultural experience.”
The recent London Olympics proved a popular subject for shows and comedians at this year’s Fringe. Productions including The Prize and Bitch Boxer at the Underbelly and Endure: A Run Woman Show at Assembly George Square centred on Olympic stories while Mark Watson’s Edinborolympics pitted some of the comedy circuit’s most famous names against each other in a series of bizarre invented sporting events.
The Fringe continued its seemingly unending expansion, with additional venues this year including the return of the revamped Assembly Rooms on George Street as well as the Famous Spiegeltent. Northern Stage took residency of St Stephens (the former home of Aurora Nova), while the SpaceUK added new performance spaces at the Symposium Hall on Hill Square. And C Venues opened a brand new complex in the India Buildings on Victoria Street, C NOVA.
Major award winners included the South African Strindberg adaptation, Mies Julie, which won a Scotsman Fringe First, Herald Angel and the Carol Tambor Award. And physical comedian Doc Brown picked up the prestigious Edinburgh Comedy Award.
The increasing commercialisation of comedy at the ‘big four’ venues (Pleasance, Underbelly, Gilded Balloon and Assembly) proved a talking point during the festival, prompted by a critical blog piece by comedian Stewart Lee in the Guardian. But initiatives such as the Free Fringe deepened the feeling this year that there now exists something of a ‘fringe of the fringe’ – a total of 814 free shows were presented this year.
Kath Mainland summarised: “For performers, the Fringe is one of the most exciting and important ways of developing their careers and showcasing their work ... I would like to thank them on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of people who visited the Fringe this year for showing us their incredible talent and courage by bringing so many extraordinary shows and events to our capital city in this amazing year.”
She also announced today that the next Chair of the Fringe Society will be Professor Sir Timothy O’Shea, currently Principal and Vice Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh.