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Fringe benefits

Pauline McLean | 15:01 UK time, Tuesday, 1 September 2009

No surprises that the Fringe has recovered from last year's Box Office related drop.

With most of the larger venues reporting anything up to 50% increases in numbers over the opening weeks, it was always going to be a good year.

But even the most optimistic promoters must be surprised by the fact that the overall sales are up across the board by 21%.

And taking into account last year's problems, that means the Fringe is 9% up on their best every year - 2007.

The main reason, seems to be the high percentage of UK visitors - staycationers spending their holidays not abroad but at the festival.

But a strong programme of shows and competitive ticketing deals seems to have paid off.

Karen Koren of the Gilded Balloon is particularly delighted to win back a local audience.

Her plans to stage the Chippendales at one of her biggest venues was met by tut tuts at the start of the festival, from people who felt that staging an already successful commercial show was not only a cop out but also out of keeping with the spirit of the Fringe.

Her argument was always that she wanted to win back a local audience who decided the fringe wasn't for them - and it seems to have paid off.

Not that the Fringe can afford to be complacent.

There are still plenty of issues to resolve, not least the role of the slightly antiquated Fringe Society in the promotion of the world's largest arts festival.

Food for thought as the venues are dismantled and the thousands of flyposters are washed off today.



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