Leading Article: The Edinburgh Fringe is too high-falutin
Saturday 14 August 1999
But could this - the stuff of artistic dreams - ever happen again? For the vibrant Edinburgh Fringe, which nurtured Stomp, is in danger of suffocation by bureaucracy. Some of the more enterprising artists currently in Edinburgh have complained bitterly about the policing of the acts on the Royal Mile by the Fringe authorities. Having been handed by Edinburgh City Council the task of regulating the acts, the Fringe organisers have required registration of performers, the payment of insurance premiums and the booking of timed street slots.
Allegedly this will secure safer and more varied acts, but, as entertainers and spectators have discovered, it is draining the life blood from one of the world's most adventurous cultural institutions. The Bolivian street painter, Daniel Patino, has been told that he cannot paint on the Royal Mile. James McLean Macrae, a local piper, who has been told he cannot play where he likes, has pointed out that the restrictions do nothing for Edinburgh's poorer council tenants, who would otherwise be watching the acts for free. "Such people cannot afford to pay pounds 20 for some high- falutin show," he added.
There is every sign that the Fringe, whose gala performance was ostentatiously sponsored by Skoda, is indeed becoming high-falutin. It is bad enough that the London Underground fines buskers, but the Edinburgh Fringe's whole history is one of innovation in the arts; for it to act in the same way is inexcusable.
The insurance premiums are said to be beyond many performers' means. Leaving aside the fact that it is hard to recall too many serious street accidents in the history of the Fringe, it is surely not beyond the organisers of this successful event to take out insurance for the Royal Mile themselves on behalf of all performers. More important, excessive regulation in the arts stifles creativity and spontaneity. One result may be a Fringe of the Fringe, rather as the institutionalisation of off-Broadway spawned off-off-Broadway. But it would be better if the Fringe were allowed to return to its anarchic past. The city of Miss Jean Brodie has always suffered from a certain primness, but Miss Brodie herself would surely not have approved of these bureaucratic regulations; if nothing else, she stood for liberating the human imagination.
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days
Oscar voter speaks outfilm
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Isis burns thousands of books and rare manuscripts from Mosul's libraries
- 2 Scarlett Johansson new band 'already hit with legal complaint' from another The Singles
- 3 Husband and wife die holding hands within hours of each other after 67 years of marriage
- 4 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
- 5 'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Alien 5: Sigourney Weaver will reprise Ripley role in new movie, says director Neill Blomkamp
Seinfeld is laughing all the way to the bank: TV show generates $3.1bn in repeat fees since final episode
Wolf Hall finale, review: Simply brilliant TV
All fiction follows one of six basic storylines, according to new research
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
Oscars 2015: Birdman beats Boyhood as Eddie Redmayne and Patricia Arquette win big - as it happened
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Half of Ukip voters say they are prejudiced against people of other races
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
Aqsa Mahmood branded a 'disgrace' by her parents after claims she recruited three UK girls flying to Middle East
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia