'Fringe has sold soul to sponsorship'

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The Independent Online
ONE OF the Edinburgh Fringe's most controversial playwrights has accused the festival of selling out artistic freedom for mass commercial sponsorship.

Diane Dubois, whose play about Myra Hindley was pulled last year from its venue after objections from the sponsors of the Gilded Balloon theatre, said the artistic content of Fringe performances was now less important than securing big financial backers.

Her criticism comes at a point when the Fringe is increasingly reliant on sponsorship, this year received from the Bank of Scotland, Becks and Asahi beer among others. Several theatres, notably the Assembly Rooms, face closure without such backing, which amounts to an estimated pounds 1m for the three weeks.

Yesterday, Charlotte di Corpo, spokeswoman for the Fringe, acknowledged: "Because councils are pulling out their money, we are depending on help from companies more than ever. Skoda backed our gala opening on Sunday night. It meant 2,000 people could attend the event compared with just 800 last year."

Ms Dubois will level her attack tomorrow during a Culture Wars seminar entitled "Performance Taboos", part of the Edinburgh International Book Festival. She will be backed by a fellow speaker, the comedienne Timandra Harkness, who was slated last year for making jokes about the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. Ms Harkness said she had been pressurised to drop the jokes.

"The Edinburgh International Festival, which used to be considered staid beside the Fringe, now seems to be the place to find experimental performances. The Fringe has become just a showcase for artists," she said.

Edinburgh, Review, page 9

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