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Fringe emphasises commitment to fair work following new funding announcement

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EDINBURGH Fringe bosses and the Scottish Government have emphasised their commitment to fair work after concerns were raised over new public funding for employers at the arts festival. 

This week, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society announced that 13 Fringe producers would be awarded a share of £1.275 million through the Scottish Government’s Fringe 2022 Resilience Fund, developed to help support the festival’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The announcement was welcomed by Scottish culture minister Neil Gray, who commented: “As we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Edinburgh Fringe this summer, I’m pleased that £305,000 from our Platforms for Creative Excellence (PLACE) Fund will support the activities of the Festival Fringe Society and their street events this year. 

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“In particular, I want to congratulate the 13 producers who will share the Fringe 2022 Resilience Fund.

“The last few years have been difficult for the venues putting on events so this support will help to ensure the continued success of this flagship summer festival.” 

Venues benefiting from the fund are the Assembly, BlundaBus, Gilded Balloon, Greenside, Just the Tonic, Laughing Horse, Monkey Barrell Comedy, Pleasance, the Scottish Comedy Festival, Summerhall, theSpaceUK, Underbelly and ZOO, several of which will use the funding to increase staff pay from the living wage to the real living wage, as well as increasing staff numbers and reducing hours to improve working conditions.  

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READ MORE: Unite Scotland has ‘no faith’ Edinburgh Fringe funding will reach ‘decent’ employers

However, industrial organiser Bryan Simpson of Unite Hospitality – who earlier this month stated they had “no faith” that the new funding would be given to “decent employers”, following mounting concerns over exploitative working practices at the Fringe – told the National: “We would love to know from the Fringe Society and indeed Neil Gray MSP, what safeguards – if any – were put in place to ensure that taxpayers money was given to employers who actually adhered to Scottish Government Fair Work principles.” 

Responding to Simpson’s comments, Fringe Society CEO Shona McCarthy said: “The Fringe Society, along with producers across the festival, has made a serious commitment to ensure that the Fringe is the best version of itself going forward. This funding will support us to achieve that goal.” 

A Scottish Government spokesperson also told the National: “The selection process for the £1.275 million support to Fringe producers was led by the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society.

“As agreed by the PLACE award panel, a condition of funding was for the Fringe Society to develop an approach to embedding fair work principles in the activity of Fringe producing venues, including an enhanced programme of evaluation of this approach and future visioning. 

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“Creative Scotland observed the Fringe Society’s selection process and the Scottish Government is confident the Fair Work condition has been embedded.”

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