Friday, 13 August 2010

Losing money at the Fringe

I'm intrigued by something Chris Addison said on The One Show last night, about how in a usual year at the Edinburgh Fringe, even if he sold out every seat, he'd end up owing £8000.

Now I've been putting on shows at the Fringe since 2001, and I thought I'd pretty well worked out the maths of this thing and, to me, that sounds like bollocks. So I twittered to that effect, and I had another fellow comic, Gary Delaney, replying that his losses were even greater than that. I remain puzzled as to how that could be.

Our show, the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre, started off in a 55 seater venue for two years, moved up to an 80 seater last year, and this year is in a 90 seater. We have been very lucky to be building up a following which means we sellout quite often. With a push and a following wind we can sell out 80% of our seats (fingers crossed, we've already had 6 sellouts out of 9 nights, with more to come). I would expect Gary and especially Chris to be doing the same.

It costs me around £4500, or 40% of my door takings (whichever is the greater) to hire my venue, with an extra £500 to be in the Edinburgh Comedy Festival programme, £1500 to rent a flat for the month, and between £500 and £1000 to print flyers and posters. Let's say I don't get much change from 8 grand, and then I have my living costs (and have you seen the price of a pint at the Loft Bar? I ask you)

My tickets cost 9 or 10 quid each, with some going for as little as 4 quid on a preview or 2-for-1 day. Say they average 8 quid a ticket over the month, and I only sell 65% of my seats, and I'm only in last year's 80 seater. That's 25 nights times 52 seats times 8 quid, equals £10,400. So take away 40% of that (or £4500 whichever is the greater) and that's paid off the venue hire and I'm left with £5900. Taking the other costs out of that I'm still in profit. So how do the Addisons of this world manage to blow an additional ten thousand pounds?

Yours, puzzled of Lothian Road

1 comment:

Ian said...

It's a question of expectations - people expect the Fringe to cost the earth, and don't do anything about it. I've done the Fringe every year since 92 and never lost money. If you spend a grand on flyer design, a few grand on a PR company and need to live next to your venue things will begin to add up.

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