All five August Fests off

Apr 1 2020 | By More

All Edinburgh’s August 2020 festivals have been pulled

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Edinburgh International Festival, Book Festival, Art Festival and the Royal Edinburgh Military Tatttoo will not be held in 2020.

The news, announced at noon on April 1 but no April Fool, comes as little surprise and has been hinted at for weeks. However the nature of the Fringe, which is an open access festival, has left the Fringe Society having to negotiate with a wide range of participants and venues.

Shona MCCarthy, EdFringe chief executive

Together, the five August festivals comprise over 5,000 events across Scotland’s capital each summer, welcoming audiences of 4.4 million and over 25,000 artists, writers and performers from 70 countries, making them the second biggest cultural event in the world after the Olympics.

Scottish Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop praised the “very difficult decision the festivals have had to take by cancelling this year’s events.”

Saying that it will be a major loss, she noted that it would now allow all participants – performers, organisers and spectators – to focus on their own health and well being.

Hyslop also promised full support for individuals and organisers saying: “I am committed to looking into support for seasonal staff who will suffer some of the greatest impact.

“The Scottish Government will work with the festivals and all partners to ensure they can build on their previous success and return to the stage in 2021.”

Safety first

Shona McCarthy, chief executive of the Fringe Society said: “The safety of participants, audiences, local residents and indeed everyone connected to our festivals will always come first.

“Our thoughts today are with the doctors, nurses, health and social care professionals on the front line, as well as all those affected by this dreadful pandemic.

“Our sympathies too are with the thousands of artists and participants directly affected by today’s decision – we will do everything we can to support you over the coming months.”

She added that the Society is working hard to mitigate the impact of the decision on Fringe artists and audience members.

She said: “Today we are committing to refunding all participant registration fees, as well as refunding the Fringe tickets and Friends memberships purchased by our audience members.

“We are also offering participants who have already paid the alternative of rolling their show registration forward to the 2021 Fringe to cover an equivalent show listing.”

Born out of adversity

Fergus Linehan, Festival Director of the EIF, expressed his disappointment in the cancellation and promised that the festival will be back in 2021.

He said: “Our thoughts are with all the country’s key workers and we hope that we can celebrate your heroic efforts when this awful pandemic has passed.

“The Edinburgh International Festival was born out of adversity – an urgent need to reconnect and rebuild. The current crisis presents all at the Festival with a similar sense of urgency. Work begins straight away on a 2021 Festival season that will boost both our spirits and our economy.”


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