The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society has bowed to external pressure and has started selling tickets for this year’s event through its own website.
The move comes several months ahead of the official programme launch, which has been brought forward by a fortnight this year to May 31 to avoid clashing with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebration and the associated bank holidays.
Neil Mackinnon, the Fringe’s head of external affairs, told The Stage: “The main reason we’re selling tickets earlier is because our audience has told us that that is what they want. Audience research has revealed that many visitors to the fringe make their decisions as to whether to come or not in the spring and when possible we want to make tickets available to these people at the time that is convenient to them.
“Producers and venues have also told us that from their point of view they want to be able to sell the tickets as soon as details about the show, such as its time and venue, are confirmed.”
Historically, the fringe has refused to sell any tickets before the full programme details are announced, so as not to favour one production over any other. However, in recent years, several venues have started putting their tickets on sale through their own outlets.
Mackinnon explained: “It is still a level playing field in the sense that access to early sales is available to every show, regardless of size and regardless of genre. Everyone has access to it and if you look at our website today you will see that as well as some big name comedians there are also relatively small, first time theatre performers who are already selling tickets.”
Mackinnon denied that the change has been forced on the Fringe by the London Olympics or that it is worried about the effect of the games.
“I wouldn’t use the word ‘worried’ I would use the word ‘aware’,” he said. “We have taken steps to ensure that we maximise the opportunities that the Olympics bring. This is not so much a response to the Olympics as a response to the demands of our audience and to research and to artists.”