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Old 05-22-09, 11:59 PM   #1
asher Tea
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Hello everyone this is a note to advise you that the Edinburgh Fringe will be charging performers this year for the right to perform. If you are going to perform there this year or you have performed there before please pass this info to anyone else you know who is thinking about performing at Edinburgh this year. If we all stand up against this cash grab we may overcome it if we don't band together we will pay for the right forever.
As a group we are trying to resist this new fee based system as it will eventually,
1- Inflate over time
2- Price out artistic and new acts
3- Influence other festivals to charge street performers.

We are going to boycott this fee, please do not pay it and tell anyone you know who intends on playing at the fringe to do the same.

Please join this facebook group if you are on facebook,
or post your comments here.
This is a copy of the letter sent to all potential street performers at this years Edinburgh Fringe festival,

Dear Edinburgh High Street Performers,
I would like to thank you for the petition you sent to the High Street Manager.
Although some kind of fee will have to stay, we have listened to the arguments made regarding the
unbalanced nature of the flat fee and will respond to this.
I can confirm that we will be implementing a new fee structure that we hope will make the High Street
financially viable for all involved.
The fee helps towards providing staff and security for the event and, along with other revenue streams
such as sponsorship, contributes to the cost of providing a safe, enjoyable environment for tens of
thousands of people every August.
The High Street in August receives no public subsidy and we need to be able to cover the costs of
staging the event. The Fringe Society is a registered charity, which re-invests any surpluses back into the
Once the structure is confirmed we will be uploading the 2009 application forms; this will be happening
in the coming weeks.
I hope that the Fringe and street performers can continue working together in a constructive way that
benefits all involved.
Kind regards,
Tim Hawkins
General Manager
this message is directly from asher Tea who may self destruct at any given time.

Last edited by asher Tea; 06-01-09 at 07:42 PM.
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Old 05-23-09, 04:28 AM   #2
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How much are they charging ?
As much as I'd like to be able to perform everywhere for free and without a permit, I can however understand that there needs to be some kind of system in place to keep order, and some kind of charge to cover administration costs.
Currenly I can't work my local pitch because the police keep telling me so. There is no system for street performers here and now I'm trying to make one and would be happy to pay for it if it meant I could work and make money when I want.

Point being, the fringe creates the situation where a lot of performers can make a lot of money (sometimes), and it costs them money to put it together.
Why not show your appreciation and give a little back ?
20-50 pounds would be reasonable surely.

Otherwise I recommend that a group of performers gets together to gather sponsorship to fund the street performer aspect of the fringe. Couldn't be that hard surely.

No doubt I'll get shot down over my opinion on this one, but I've been street performing for 20 years now and a lot of that time was spent worrying about if i could work somewhere and make money or not. I love busking more than doing gigs and hope I can go on doing it for a long while yet, so I'm at the point where I'd be glad to pay a little to have the right to play a lot.
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Old 05-23-09, 04:43 PM   #3
Evan Young
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Festivals like this do shoulder the cost of extra police support, first aid responders, and clean up. Sponsors probably normally cover the cost of all that, but it's a bad economy this year.
A lot of the shows that perform at the fringe in the theaters loose money. Overhead is extremely high, but they do it in the hopes of getting "discovered".

A local festival here wanted to charge for street performing rights and I laughed at them because I know that it wouldn't be worth it for me to wast my time. I could easily make more money going down to my normal pitch and providing that area with kick ass entertainment without paying rent. The Ed fringe doesn't have that problem of being small fries, it's one of the best street performing opportunities in the world, and I would say it's probably worth shelling out some money for.

I pay extra for nicer gear that works better for me, why not pay extra for the best pitch?

Also, if you pay for something, you have a right to be upset when the service provider doesn't live up to it's promise. So, just be ready to bitch when you don't get a green room and convenient bathrooms.

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Old 05-28-09, 06:02 PM   #4
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I agree with evan - I don't have a problem paying at all - I've never been to this specific festival - but I have been to a few where you do have to pay - And it's worth it - I would have no problem participating in payment. and maybe one year I actually will make it to that festival.


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Old 06-01-09, 12:55 PM   #5
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I am on the fence on this actually...the majority of the "staff" people working the fringe are volunteers, the people who maintain the shows and keep time of the slots are also volunteers, I assume that this year, paying the performance fee or not, that the majority of the "staff" people handling the street scene will be volunteers.

There are for sure people I know that were paid to be out there, however with the huge fees that people pay to have a fringe venue, surely those costs are covered by that as is securty and structure of the event.

what is the new payment system going to provide extra that has not been covered by volunteers or the fringe in the past?

the lockup I am sure costs something...

Are there going to be garunteed spots for everyone who pays the fee? or is it still going to be a draw where you may not get a show for days.

I am with Gav, 20-50 pounds sounds reasonable for the month.
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Old 06-01-09, 07:40 PM   #6
asher Tea
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Default fee

The reason we are boycotting the fee has nothing to do with the amount, 50 is not a lot of money to pay. The reasons are,
-the fee will inflate over time
-the fringe do not own the street
-it prices out small and new acts
-it is a cash grab for services that have been provided free for years.
-the street performers provide thousands of pounds worth of free entertainment each year and are the face of ed fringe, this is how we pay the fringe back for staffing the pitches.

In response to Gregs argument about the wages of volunteers and storage. Our combined fee's would not be adequate to pay volunteers wages and that is not our responsibility, that is the responsibility of the Edinburgh fringe. the storage is there irrespective as the shipping containers are used to bring in and pack out the stages on the high street used by fringe performers to spruike their show.
If we do not stand up against this now we will be paying for ever for the right to perform. The fringe draws tens of thousands of people and major sponsors each year to cover their costs. Less services are being supplied this year than the previous year and the fee is the same as last year.
Keep the street free!
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Old 06-18-09, 11:41 PM   #7
Mr. Josh Weiner
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Default Edinburgh Street Performers Letter of Support.

(Posted on FACEBOOK: Edinburgh Street Performers)

To Whom It May Concern,

My name is Josh Weiner, and I am a New York City street performer since 1990. In 1998 I visited Edinburgh and stayed after the EJC Festival for one week. I performed behind St. Giles Cathedral, and the local performers were quite kind and respectful.

I would perform at times when a large group of regular acts were in queue for the afternoon. There was a Drum Group, a man who Stacked Dice & had a man walk on him lying on a bed of nails. There were dancers. Musicians. A comedian. Lindsay the rope walker/violinist was also there.

All the performers were courteous and allowed me a fair share for the entire week. It was an oral agreement, with a handshake. I was, and still am, quite poor, and they allowed a visitor from the USA to work without fee or local harassment. I looked quite asian and young perhaps a runaway teenager, and there were no moments of unwelcome confrontation.

So, thanks to you, the Edinburgh performers.

I returned to the USA, and still work the street, legal in parks, even subways without permit, protected by the US Constitution Bill of Rights.

I also perform with two organizations: The South Street Seaport and MUNY (Subway Performers).

The Seaport in NYC did start a $500 per performer annual request that was stopped due to protest and local petition (Signed by dozens of performers, professionals, local and even Civil Liberties Lawyers and local Union organizers like Local 802) and negotiation several years ago. Buskers are non-union, not on official payroll, and sign a hold harmless agreement to work in designated organized locations. But business certainly changed since 9/11/2001.
Many stores closed, many left the city.

I have since organized a festival, in 2005 in post 9/11 NYC. It took many hours of calls and paperwork, but the festival was granted sponsorship by LOMA and a banquet was held, which was a thank you and small stipends for all performers, and then down to business for all the downtown tour groups and stores in the area involved in their business networks. Although I felt "out of the loop" of the large business deals, I was genuinely thankful for the hands given to poor struggling artists and working class performers simply surviving with the skills and crafts they still possessed.

The past years have been a erosion of our Busking Rights. The Season is shorter, and the business deals with a River-To-River music festival, or beer tent, are completely marginalizing and overshadowing pure Busking. Each year I send a petition for an annual festival and it is not considered. The property is struggling to remain in business. Our "Busker's Hall of Fame" has left he property. Our hours are regularly, locations on the property are blocked due to special events and several performers were not welcomed back onto the roster.

I was also arrested later in 2005 working with the proper MUNY permit and held in jail for 48 hours.

I continue in good faith.

I am financially ruined and facing housing court to keep my apartment (flat). I am thankful for the smaller hats, and simply facing the reality of basic needs.

Peaceful Days & Safe Travels. I hope reading this is helpful. I hope you win. Organize!

Both Seaport and MUNY have paid organizers who designate location and times. There is also an audition process. No performer accepted in the program pays a fee to work. We get no salary, we are not on payroll. We are a tax write off of some sort.

Sincerely, Josh Weiner, Performer 1977-2009. NYC Busker 1990-present.
Josh Weiner
Juggling & Related Circus Arts
2005 Busker's Hall of Fame
The South Street Seaport NYC 1992-2008
MUNY 2005-present

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