THE Edinburgh Festival Fringe has suggested the show could still go on this August if “public health officials deem it safe to do so”.

In an email to performers, the Fringe Society, the charity whose role is to provide support and administration for the world’s largest arts festival, said they would “be there to support whatever activity may take place on the Fringe.”

Yesterday, in a joint statement, the Fringe, Edinburgh Art Festival, Edinburgh International Book Festival, Edinburgh International Festival and The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo said they would not be “happening as planned in 2020.” 

The cancellation was described as “heartbreaking” by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

However, unlike the other four festivals, the Fringe is open-access. In theory that means that anyone who wants to come to Edinburgh and put on a Fringe show can. 

In a Q&A posted on its website, the Fringe Society said it “does not have the power to cancel the festival as a whole.”

It added: “The Fringe remains an open access festival, which means the Fringe Society does not decide who can and cannot put on shows.

“We are advising all venues and companies to follow the latest government and public health advice, and will continue to provide support and guidance for all participants as the situation progresses.”

The society pulls together a box office, releases a programme of all the shows on the Fringe, markets the event, and offers advice to performers, and producers.

There’s been speculation that local companies and some of the venues in Edinburgh year round, like the Stand, the Traverse, and Summerhall, could put on shows at short notice if the coronavirus lockdown comes to an end. 

In a statement the so-called big-four, the Pleasance, Underbelly, Assembly, said they would also try to rebuild an event for the summer “if there is any chance that we might rekindle the spark of a Festival Fringe”. 

In their email, the Fringe Society Participant Services team told performers: “Should restrictions be lifted, public health officials deem it safe to do so, and venues and artists emerge in August with stages for work needing to be performed, we have plans in place to ensure we can support that as quickly and as much as we can. 

“We could offer all our usual ticketing and show listings information online at as quickly and easily as possible. If budget considerations allow, we could undertake a local concentrated digital marketing campaign for audiences.”

Though the Fringe attracts audiences from all over the world it sells a sizeable chunk of tickets to locals. 

Last year, people with an Edinburgh address bought 856,541 of the 3,012,490 tickets sold.