THE performing arts and entertainment union Equity have called on the Edinburgh Fringe Society to compensate performers at this year’s festival affected by the removal of the official Fringe app.

The absence of an app, which is widely seen a vital for the generation of ticket sales, has already been the subject of controversy, with an open letter signed by over 1500 performers, promoters and venues earlier this month expressing dismay over the decision and condemning a lack of transparency from the Fringe Society.

Fringe Society chief executive Shona McCarthy apologised “unreservedly” for the distress called, but argued “we had neither the investment funds required, nor the risk appetite, given the fact we weren’t convinced live events would even be a possibility".

The National:

Following meetings with the Fringe Society, Equity has now called for partial refunds for those performers who paid for registration for the festival without knowing that the app would not be available.

In a statement released on Thursday, Equity’s organiser for comedians Rob Lugg said: “We appreciate that the Fringe Society has apologised and acknowledged that they got the communication badly wrong regarding the removal of the Fringe app. We’re also pleased to note their assurances that the 'Nearby Now' function will be available on a website that is properly optimised for both desktop and mobile devices.

“However, after consulting our members, we feel that the Fringe Society should go further and offer partial refunds to those who paid for registration before the announcement that the app would not be available this year. This would be an important goodwill gesture and help repair the damaged relationship with performers at this year’s Fringe.

“The removal of the Fringe app could impact ticket sales as well as accessibility for disabled audience members. This is concerning as two years of Covid restrictions have hit our members hard, and with an out of control cost-of-living crisis, the biggest threat to the future of the Edinburgh Fringe is performers deciding that they cannot afford to take part.”

READ MORE: Fears over Edinburgh Fringe's future amidst lower ticket sales

Equity has also highlighted further obstacles to performers at this year’s Fringe, including what it describes as “extortionate” accommodation, venue and transport costs.

The union has described these problems as “systemic”, and has advocated that rents be capped in Edinburgh and “for theatre digs beyond”.

Responding to Equity’s announcement, a Fringe Society spokesperson told The National: “The Fringe registration fee covers a wide range of opportunities for artists, including year-round support, workshops, events, marketing advice, press list access, and our dedicated team each August within Fringe Central.

"While we understand it is disappointing that the Fringe app is not here this August, much of the functionality will be live on our mobile-optimised website from next week, including the Nearby Now navigation for audiences to find shows close by at the last minute.

“Registration fees have been frozen for the last 15 years, with the Fringe app only coming to market in 2017. We will continue to work with sponsors, partners and artists to develop an app for the 2023 Fringe. We are of course always here to answer any queries or concerns artists may have around their registration fee, and would encourage them to reach out to our team."

On August 7, Equity will also launch its Comedians’ Charter at the Fringe, a set of standards for venues and promoters to sign up to regarding the fair treatment of comedians, including policies on pay transparency and late-night safety.