In a blow that will be felt by performing arts professionals the world over, it was announced today that the world renowned Edinburgh Festival Fringe, along with all of the city’s August festivals, will not take place in 2020 because of Coronavirus.
It will be the first time in the festival’s 73-year history that it will not go ahead, however organisers said they “collectively believe this is the only appropriate response”.
It follows advice from the City of Edinburgh Council and the Scottish government. The Fringe Society has also been consulting with artists, producers, venues, residents and audience members over recent weeks.
Announcing the news, Shona McCarthy, Chief Executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, said the safety of participants, audiences and residents “will always come first”.
She said: “It’s heartbreaking the fringe and our sister August festivals will not take place as planned this summer. However, having taken advice and considered all the options, we collectively believe this is the only appropriate response.”
McCarthy also expressed sympathies with “the thousands of artists and participants directly affected by today’s decision”. She added: “We will do everything we can to support you over the coming months.
“Culture brings out the best in us. It gives the marginalised a voice, it shapes and reshapes how we think of ourselves and, crucially, it unites us. Since their inception in 1947, the Edinburgh festivals have existed to champion the flowering of the human spirit and, in the face of this truly unprecedented global emergency, we believe this spirit is needed now more than ever.”
Shona McCarthy, Chief Executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society
McCarthy added that the society is working to mitigate the financial impact on artists and audiences, and committed to refunding all participant registration fees as well as tickets and memberships bought by audiences.
Scotland’s culture secretary Fiona Hyslop said she understood and supported the decision to cancel this year’s events.
“The cancellation of the festivals will no doubt be a major loss and they will be missed greatly in 2020. But in taking this difficult decision now, everyone involved in the festivals, from staff to spectators, will be able to fully focus on their health and well-being, which is critical during this time of great uncertainty.”