Monday, 25 August 2014

Edinburgh 2014's Squeezed Middle - some views

I asked a question on Facebook, hoping to find peoples feelings about the economics of Edinburgh Fringe 2014. Here are some replies.

Kev Sutherland : Is it possible to get a coherent verdict on Edinburgh Fringe this year or do 1000 different people have 1000 different opinions? Here on Facebook I've read a few people having a hard time, others having their best. Some say audiences are low, some that reviews are hard to get, others have a view on everything. Anyone else want to sum up Edinburgh 2014?

Ewan Spence I think 1000 people = 1000 views is about right. From slightly outside the performer space, it does feel like the 'mythical' ability of the Fringe to self-correct itself has decided to address the issue of ticket price (through the Free Fringes, a more picky crowd of punters, too many venues, etc); I think that's happening to media coverage online, the print media feels sparser, BBC coverage is up but rather focused on the top of certain verticals, and the online sties feel a touch in flux. 
    In summary... changeable conditions. Like hail, rain, snow, wind, and sun, all in one hour. So Thursday then.

Kev Sutherland And the state of criticism is in flux, as highlighted by FringePig and stuff like this: (Mobius sound like a clever lot, and well done for making Adam Riches the most well known 3 star show of 2014)

Ewan Spence "Comedy coverage", i.e. one third of the shows, and we won't call them reviews so we can use them to get on the telly comedy panel quiz chat show things

Lewis Cook Personally it was my best Edinburgh ever (though this is largely because my previous 2 fringes were awful, its taken me 4 years to get back) got some nice reviews in a nice venue and most importantly, performed a show I actually liked. This year felt like there were more shows than audiences and the power of free venues seems to be growing stronger and stronger.

Matthew Perret I have noticed a polarisation.... top-end business as usual, Free Fringe generally thriving.... and a squeezed middle of smaller rooms in the big venues struggling to compete with the free shows and "big names"... (Personally: my first Free Fringe run, and I'm absolutely delighted, though it's tough getting reviewers in).

Jordan Raskopoulos We were around 95% tickets sold. However we sold a lot less merchandise than in previous years; we put that down to the economy and the fact that folks have moved on from physical media. I think we'll be moving to a digital solution in the future; USBs or download cards.
      On a more general note, on more than one occasion I saw groups looking at the GB lineup and overheard them say to one another "shall we go to a free venue instead?". It definitely seems that the middle is being squeezed out. Folks will pay to see a headline act but are avoiding risking their cash on smaller shows in ticketed venues.

Kev Sutherland Interesting takes here on the "squeezed middle", which I guess are shows you "take a punt" on, in the Fringe sense. I spoke to non-comic friends who'd booked a disappointing number of shows by people "off the telly", though their take-a-punt shows were reassuringly theatre things that they'd got through word of mouth. But, yes, that's the area where Free Fringe makes punt-taking a lot safer.

Fred Ferenczi Some venues are diabolically unsuitable for comedy.

Steve Griffin A lot of hard work, but definitely worth it!

Salvatore Monello Some if the best venues are too far away from the necessary footfall ,and sound systems can't be relied on

Gary Lynch Rain. Very low international visitor numbers. Dreadful service everywhere, buying a drink or getting food is a project. Rain. Serious re-think needed about whether it is worth doing the Free end of things. Serious re-think needed about whether Edinburgh is worth doing at all when an old and feeble joke wins the joke of the fringe award. Yeah, you may have guessed I am not in tremendous love with it right now.

Sean Brightman Useless street team, inconsistent numbers, terrible suffering financially. But rewarding at times. At the moment, I'm with Gary on this one.    

Bob Walsh for me on the Free Fringe on 3rd consec Year with the same show that my numbers were up at the expense of that much talked about squeezed middle (I don't pay money unless I know of or have been recommended shows or acts ) so punters up but money per punter down despite highest quality shows yet and bigger name guests. for me still, a good one ! ! delighted about many of the same punters back again for 3rd year !

Jordan Raskopoulos That's interesting, Bob. I'd like to know more about if the money donated per punter was down across the board for a lot of the free fringe program. 
     It definitely felt like folks had a lot less to spend this year. We had plenty of people wanting to come to our meet and greets wanting photos and autographs but not many walking away with merchandise.
Wil Hodgson    Well, judging by the fact I've had my best numbers since at least 2010 (in spite of a total lack of reviews) I reckon taking a foray into spoken word was a good move this Fringe. Thanks to everyone who came to the show. If I can take it tour then I will.

And finally: Fringe Claims Record Box Office - Chortle

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