Acts flock to Edinburgh Fringe despite recession

Wed Jun 10, 2009 10:09am EDT
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By Ian MacKenzie

EDINBURGH (Reuters) - A record number of performers from around the world are flocking to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year despite the global recession, and organizers are hoping audiences will match their enthusiasm.

Oddly, Britain's dour and embattled Prime Minister Gordon Brown fails to make a noticeable appearance yet again in the satirical sketches that are a feature of the Fringe.

A number of Britain's leading comedians and actors got their break in Edinburgh, which also hosts Britain's top annual comedy award. The Fringe combines with the city's international book, art and jazz festivals and military tattoo to make up the world's biggest annual showcase of the arts.

An estimated 18,901 performers, with shows from 60 countries including comedy, music, theater, musicals, opera and dance, will gather for the Fringe, which runs from August 7 to 31.

"We're really heartened that so many performers have decided to come to the Festival Fringe, more than ever before, and I think that's a really good sign that the Fringe continues to be a strong attraction in these difficult economic times," the Fringe Society's Chief Executive Kath Mainland told Reuters.


She noted that as well as catering for mass audiences -- in good times the Edinburgh Festival attracts around 750,000 people through a six-week season -- the Fringe is also a major global "art market" in which performers display their talents.

"Lots of people come here looking for works to buy or take and promote in other countries, and that's a big part of the appeal I think."   Continued...

<p>A gymnast from The Chinese State Circus is seen balancing on rings during a photocall for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival shows, Scotland August 6, 2008. REUTERS/David Moir</p>