THE future of the Edinburgh Fringe is in “very real danger” due to the soaring cost of accommodation in the capital, according to eight of the arts festival’s biggest producing venues.

As this year’s Fringe draws to a close, a collective statement from Assembly, Dance Base, Gilded Balloon, Just the Tonic, Pleasance, Summerhall, Underbelly and ZOO has warned of the need for action from “local and national government, landlords, the universities, Fringe venues and the Fringe Society” to find a “lasting solution” to Edinburgh’s increasing lack of affordability for both performers and audiences.  

A spokesperson for said that the eight venues are forecast to have sold over 1,486,746 tickets in 2022, despite challenges including the cost-of-living crisis, the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, recent rail strikes and the difficulties of international travel, adding: “Chief among these however is the soaring cost of accommodation in Edinburgh in August – audiences and artists alike are being priced out of town, out of experiences.” 

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The spokesperson noted that a lack of safe affordable housing in Edinburgh is “not just an August problem, but one that affects the artists, staff and audiences who call Edinburgh home.

“It’s imperative that local and national government, landlords, the universities, Fringe venues and the Fringe Society all come together to find a lasting solution for this issue, or the future of the Fringe is in very real danger.”

Making the festival affordable to performers and audiences in light of reduced ticket sales may take several years and require “some public support”, the spokesperson continued, saying: “We need to stabilise the current situation where many people have made significant losses.”

The statement follows The Sunday National’s revelation this week that average daily rates for Airbnb and Vrbo holiday lets in Scotland have increased by 41% since before the pandemic, with the average per day price now standing at £186.28, compared with £131.81 in 2019. Despite this, demand has been surpassing pre-pandemic levels since the beginning of this year.

While Edinburgh is set to become a “short-terms lets control area” following the introduction of new powers for local authorities by the Scottish Government, the tenants union Living Rent has warned that Edinburgh City Council’s proposals are “riddled with loopholes” that run the risk of “watering down any meaningful change for Edinburgh’s residence,” and have demanded the new control zone bring down the number of short-term lets instead of just capping them, introduce meaningful penalties for landlords who fail to comply with standards, and provide no exemption periods that would let some dodge regulation.

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Concerns over the lack of affordable housing in Edinburgh have mounted in recent years, with rents in the city having increased by over 40% over the past decade, and by 10% in the past year alone. In April, a study by insurance experts at Protectivity found that the capital has overtaken London as the most expensive city in the UK for solo renters.

Since the advent of the cost-of-living crisis, the Scottish Government has faced growing calls for either an immediate rent freeze or the fast-tracked introduction of rent controls.

While the Scottish Government has pledged to introduce rent controls before the end of the current parliament, the SNP and the Greens drew widespread criticism after opposing Labour MSP Mercedes Villalba’s proposals for an emergency rent freeze earlier this year.