Fringe box office project was “fundamentally flawed”

42-17657911By Vikki Graves

An independent report into the box office system failure at last year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe has criticised the Fringe Society’s “lack of strategic direction and transparency”.

The report, published today by consultants Scott-Moncrieff, says the replacement of the Fringe’s box office system shortly before the 2008 festival was poorly handled from start to finish.

The new software malfunctioned as tickets went on sale last June, leaving the Society unable to print tickets for show previews until just one week before performances began.

Permanent venues were able to market their own shows and sell tickets independently. A spokesman for the Traverse Theatre said their sales went up. “We had a really strong programme and seven out of ten of our shows were sold out every day”.

But ticket sales over the festival as a whole were down 10% on 2007 figures, in part as a result of the box office fiasco that left many small visiting companies without a means to print tickets.

Fringe director Jon Morgan called 2008 a “fantastic year”, but his resignation followed shortly after sales figures were released. As a result it was decided to modify the Fringe’s management structure and recruit a chief executive.

The Fringe Board of directors today released a statement welcoming the report. It says the recommendations are already being implemented as part of a system of changes to  “ensure that the incoming chief executive inherits an organisation that can reinforce the Fringe’s position as the biggest and best arts festival in the world with a box office system to match”.