A petition has been launched calling on the Scottish Government to tackle “spiralling” accommodation costs at the Edinburgh Fringe, as a new survey highlights the rising costs performers are facing.
The petition argues that unless costs are addressed, there is a “real danger” of the fringe becoming unaffordable for many artists, which could “have a serious impact on the diversity and quality of acts on offer”.
Union Equity is behind the petition, which follows a survey of 125 members and found that average rent per person at the fringe in shared properties ranged from £600 to £1,200 per month in 2015 to 2018.
However in 2019, the average cost per person rose to between £800 to £2,000 a month.
The figures have been given as a range to reflect the variety of accommodation options, including shared houses, university rooms or hostels, as well as city centre options versus locations that are further out of town.
Equity Comedians’ Network member Simon Caine, who is one of the members behind the petition, said: “While the costs of participating in the event have been a long-term bugbear, we are concerned that soaring costs more recently is putting it beyond the reach of a growing number – particularly those from working-class backgrounds that receive no private or professional funding to take part.
“There is a real danger that without action to address this in future years, it will harm the careers of many artists from Scotland and the UK and will risk the future diversity and quality of acts on offer.”
The petition adds that factors contributing to rising costs include recent changes to tenancy agreements.
It calls on stakeholders including the Scottish government, City of Edinburgh Council and Edinburgh University to work with Equity to investigate how affordable accommodation can be made available to those working at the fringe.
Housing Minister for the Scottish Government, Kevin Stewart, said: “We are committed to working with local authorities to give them the powers they need to balance the unique needs of their communities with wider economic and tourism interests.
“While short-term lets can have a positive impact and help boost the tourism economy across all areas of Scotland, we know that they can also create challenges. That’s why we want to ensure that short-term lets are regulated appropriately.
“We are grateful for the large number of responses we received to our recent consultation, which we will now carefully consider.”
City of Edinburgh Council and University of Edinburgh have been contacted for comment.