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US circus company Spiegelworld warns of Edinburgh Fringe withdrawal over Brexit concerns

Spiegelworld's multimillion-dollar Atomic Saloon Show is premiering at the Edinburgh Fringe, but the company warns that Brexit may lead it to reconsider bringing its shows to the festival in the future
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A US circus company that had planned to premiere its multimillion-dollar shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for the next five years has warned that Brexit may scupper its plans.

Entertainment company Spiegelworld, which is based in New York but tours work to countries including Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Canada, has brought shows to Edinburgh on and off for the last 20 years.

The company is premiering a production in Edinburgh, called Atomic Saloon Show – its first premiere in the city. The show has been produced in the Scottish capital and will then transfer to a permanent residency in Las Vegas.

Spiegelworld founder Ross Mollison said the company had hoped to produce a show in Edinburgh each year for the next five years, before touring the productions elsewhere. Mollison said the budget for Atomic Saloon Show was $5 million.

According to Mollison, Spiegelworld had also been considering building a permanent venue in Edinburgh and making the city its European base for touring shows.

However, due to fears around Brexit, Mollison said it is now “unlikely” the plan will go ahead, unless Brexit uncertainties are resolved. The company is now looking at other options for its European base, including Berlin and Paris.

“When we take the box office home [this year], it’s going to be terrible,” Mollison told The Stage.

“The pound collapsing against the US dollar is going to mean we lose 20% or 30% that we could have earned, so our revenue could potentially go dramatically down.

“Who knows what’s going to happen next? Are we going to be dealing with a EU country? If Brexit goes ahead, will Scotland stay? It was close last time as I understand.”

Mollison said the current Brexit situation “adds an enormous degree of uncertainty” around the company’s aims and it was unsure of the potential impacts on visas and staffing.

He added: “Everybody is really supportive and I love it here. If I had my way, and I had the money we would do it.

“But it’s an expensive decision and we are going to want to know, beyond the emotional love of coming to Scotland, that there’s a financial outcome for us.”

A spokeswoman for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe said: “The Fringe Society is a non-political organisation and it is currently too difficult to say what the long-term impact of Brexit will be on the fringe.”

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