Ladyboys lose Meadows site

Feb 26 2015 | By More

Underbelly take over Meadows site during fringe

The Ladyboys of Bangkok have failed to retain their Meadows site for this year’s fringe, after the council put the rental of the Meadows out to competitive tender.

The site used by the Ladyboys for 16 years, in the triangle to the east of Middle Meadow Walk, will now be used by Underbelly who have been made preferred bidders in the tendering process.

The Ladyboys of Bangkok 2014 show - Red Hot Kisses

The Ladyboys of Bangkok 2014 show – Red Hot Kisses

Full details of how Underbelly plan to use the site have not yet been revealed. A council spokeswoman told Æ that as preferred bidders they will have to put their plans through the licensing process. Underbelly will get first offer on the site next year but after that it will go back out to tender.

The Ladyboys already have this year’s fringe on their schedule. Their new Beauties and the Beats Tour, which opens in Derby at the end of March, is due to arrive in Edinburgh on Saturday 8 August and run until Sunday 30 August.

The Ladyboys are actively looking for a new site to put their Sabai Pavilion during the fringe, according to producer and artistic director, Phillip Gandey, who first brought the Ladyboys’ kathoey revue show to the fringe in 1998.

Gandey told Æ that he is now negotiating with other private landlords in Edinburgh and will announce a new site for the revue at this year’s fringe, which will definitely go ahead.

Over 80% of the Ladyboys Edinburgh fringe audience is local, according to Gandey, and a petition to keep the company on the Meadows during the fringe was signed by over 22,000 people during last year’s event.

He added that in the appraisal process for the bid, the Ladyboys and Underbelly scored within a small percent of each other at just over 80%. The Ladyboys came ahead in terms of finance with the Underbelly bid ahead in terms of quality.

However he disputed whether a true assessment could be made in terms of quality between a long-existing production and an as yet to be confirmed show.

fair consideration

A statement from the Council into the background to the decision says: “Council chiefs insisted each bid had been given fair consideration and considered on an equal playing field with proposals marked in terms of quality of offering (60% of appraisal) as well as financials (40%).

“The Council understands that the Ladyboy organisers will be disappointed with the outcome, and is open to holding talks with event organisers about potential alternative sites.

“The Edinburgh Parks Events Manifesto was reviewed and approved by the Transport and Environment Committee on 26 August 2014. Following extensive consultation prior to this, one of the points raised was that a ‘commercial rent’ was not being charged by the Council for The Meadows.

“To address this issue the following amendment was made: ‘space in the Meadows is tendered during the August summer festivals for a period of up to 23 days of performance (plus set up and take down operations); recognising the importance of the location to the City’s summer festival activities’.”

City environment convener Lesley Hinds said: “The council’s tender process is a fair and rigourous assessment and Underbelly will still be required to apply for the use of the Meadows event site.

“The tender took place because we want to make sure the council receives the best deal possible for leasing the site during the city’s busiest time of year.

“More money is expected to be raised and will be reinvested in the Meadows and other parks, which is much welcomed.”


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