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Tickets sales solid as Fringe launches

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The Edinburgh Festival Fringe opened today, Friday, with news of steady and increasing ticket sales.

There are also more ways of purchasing tickets for events at the fringe than in previous years. The Edinburgh Fringe Society’s iPhone and Android apps now allow users to purchase tickets through their phones, making it the largest ticketed event in the world to offer mobile ticket purchase.

The level of box office has come as a particular relief to Assembly boss, William Burdett-Coutts, who has this year overseen the venue’s move from George Street to a new base on the city’s Southside at George Square.

He told The Stage: “Ticket sales are where we would want them to be, we are pretty much tracking where we were last year which, given the move, is quite amazing. What it has proven is that at this stage we have managed to take our business with us. Assembly has quite a loyal following and I think they have accepted the move as something we have had to do.

“The Jazz Festival in the venue has been a great benefit in terms of getting the site up and running. I don’t think we quite gathered the scale of what we had taken on. Building this whole thing around George Square has been a massive undertaking and actually getting a chance to trial it was very useful.”

Ticket sales are also holding up and growing around the fringe, with venues that have strong theatre programmes holding their own. The Traverse reports that strong sales are going across the board and are not just limited to the headline productions. Likewise at Remarkable Arts, which reports an increase of 38% in sales over this time last year.

After the publicised failings of the box office system in 2008, the introduction of in-app mobile purchasing has been rigourously checked according to Gavin Dutch, managing director of Kotikan which are the development company behind the app.

Dutch told The Stage: “We have been testing it very rigourously, as you might expect when you are dealing with people’s credit cards. For Kotikan it’s hugely exciting to be again involved in creating world leading technology for the world’s leading arts festival. Having broken new ground last year with the Fringe iPhone app, we’re pleased to be able to bring the Fringe mobile experience to Android users as well. Most significantly, for the first time this year customers will be able to buy tickets from both apps. This makes the Fringe the largest ticketed event in world to offer mobile ticket purchase.”

As well as being able to purchase tickets, users of the apps are still able to browse the Fringe Programme and see what shows are on offer with a live feed from the Virgin Money Half Price Hut. A ‘Nearby Now’ tool allows users to see what is happening close to their current location.

Explaining the Fringe Society’s involvement in the development of the app, its chief executive Kath Mainland said: “One of the main objectives of the Festival Fringe Society is to get information on fringe shows out to the maximum number of fringe goers. It’s great that the technology now available is enabling us to widen the reach of the fringe listings, and we hope that this, combined with the increased number of ticket collections points this year, will make it easier than ever for as many people as possible to find out what’s going on and buy tickets for the greatest show on earth.”

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