Edinburgh Fringe chief executive Shona McCarthy has today finally announced the news the comedy industry (and Edinburgh landlords) were waiting for… the 2020 Edinburgh Fringe has been cancelled. In a statement published here McCarthy said: “Just a few months ago, the idea of Edinburgh without the Fringe and our sister festivals would have been totally unthinkable; now, like so many other aspects of our day-to-day lives, we must pause and take stock in the face of something far bigger.”
McCarthy extended the Fringe team’s appreciation for the health and social care professionals before sharing sympathy with the “many thousands of artists, writers, producers, reviewers, venues and backstage crew whose careers have been put on hold over the past month or so. We know today’s decision will be a difficult one for many, but please know that we will continue to be here for you and will do everything we can to support you in the weeks and months ahead.”
The Fringe Festival will endeavour to refund all participant registration fees and refund the tickets and Friends memberships purchased by audience members. In addition they plan to offer participants who have already paid the alternative of rolling their show registration forward to the 2021 Fringe to cover an equivalent show listing.
As with all artist organisations McCarthy noted that: “Financially this has not been straightforward – as the small charity that underpins the Fringe we receive very little public subsidy – but we believe that offering refunds is the right thing to do and will turn this around as quickly as possible. There will also be an option to donate all or part of your purchase to support artists and the work of the Fringe Society, but this will of course be entirely optional.”
She also promises that while: “the Fringe and its sister festivals may not be able to provide a stage in the same way as before this summer, we are committed to working with artists and creatives from Edinburgh, Scotland and across the world to find new ways of uniting people under a Fringe umbrella. It’s too early to say what this will look like, but we are confident that as a collective we can find a way to reach through the walls that currently surround us and inspire, cheer and connect.
The performing arts have an important role to play in providing a prism through which to process and understand the multiple traumas of this pandemic. Art has always helped shape and reshape how we think of ourselves, and will help now to pull through the threads that unite us as human beings in a globally shared experience.”
The Free Fringe has announced that it too will not be going ahead this year.
The Edinburgh Fringe will return in 2021.