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Fringe Society sets out timetable for revised constitution

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The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society is to implement a new constitution in time for next year’s event, following heavy criticism in the wake of last summer’s ticketing fiasco.

The society, essentially the fringe’s ruling body, has unveiled a timetable for modernising its constitution, which will begin in September after this year’s festival and be complete by June 2010, in time for next year’s event.

Pip Utton, vice-chair of the society said that the process was “more extensive than anything ever undertaken before and almost certainly unique in its scale and ambition”.

He added: “The current constitution of the Fringe Society was written in 1969. Since then the Edinburgh Festival Fringe has changed just as dramatically as most aspects of society. The world’s largest arts festival needs a constitution which is fit for purpose. A constitution that reflects the demands of an open access arts festival with over 250 unique and ever-changing venues and now over 2000 shows each year.

“The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is an organic event made possible by the coming together of many different participants and stakeholders. The fringe does not belong to any individual or any one organisation. The Fringe Society was established to help the venues and the performers sell more tickets and promote shows through a single unified programme. The working group are convinced that these core objectives of the Fringe Society are as relevant today as they were in 1969. Any constitutional changes should enhance this work not detract from it.”

Last August, the society’s governance arrangements came under fire as being “weak” in an independent report which also complained of its “lack of strategic direction and transparency in decision-making” when it came to the failed implementation of a new box office system in 2008.

Following that report, a special working group was established to bring forward a constitutional review process. The working group has now come up with plans for extensive consultation with the fringe’s stakeholders ahead of a new constitution being in place by this time next year. A call to stakeholders will go out in September to launch that process.

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