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Edinburgh Fringe vows to address fair pay for workers following complaints

Festivalgoers throng the Royal Mile at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Photo: Lou Armor/Shutterstock Festivalgoers throng the Royal Mile at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Photo: Lou Armor/Shutterstock
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The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society has promised to address the issue of fair pay for workers as it launches its biggest ever programme of events in August.

Running from August 3 to 27, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe will have 3,548 productions including 1,900 premieres, with more than 1,000 companies attending for the first time.

Announcing the launch of the programme, Shona McCarthy, chief executive of the society said the fringe had published a blueprint for what it wants to achieve in the next five years.

She said: “Making sure the fringe is more affordable for the very artists who make this festival what it is, is something that we are taking very seriously.”

The society is looking at accommodation costs across the city, has agreed to a freeze registration fees for a further five years and has made a commitment to reduce box office commission from 4% to 3% within five years.

While attempting to keep costs down for participants, it is also working with venues to address issues of low pay following last year’s survey of pay and working conditions on the fringe.

McCarthy told The Stage that the society had identified every venue mentioned in the responses from workers and that the participants services team had held one-to-one meetings with each venue and discussed the feedback with them.

“Our approach to it has been to work with people. Not to beat people up but to say, ‘Look, maybe you are not 100% in your practices and we would like to help you to make sure you get to the 100%.’

“I would like to say not one venue has met us with negativity or an unwillingness to work with us. We know of specific venues that are investing a lot more in support for their staff and their workers,” she said.

When pressed, she did not condemn organisations operating during the fringe that do not pay the living wage, adding: “It is about people choosing which opportunities they want. When you look at this landscape there are thousands of choices.”

Concerning the treatment of workers she said: “Treat them fairly, ensure that you deliver on your contract and ensure that you meet your promises, so the expectations of the person coming to work for you are 100% met.”

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