Ed­in­burgh’s Fringe has lost its bite, claims lead­ing venue owner

The Herald - - NEWS - PHIL MILLER

THE Fringe has long been the home of the avant garde, the cut­ting edge and the shock­ing.

But Scot­land’s an­nual fes­ti­val of the arts has lost its bite, a lead­ing venue owner has de­clared, lament­ing that artists are not ar­rested any more.

Robert Mcdow­ell, the owner of the suc­cess­ful Sum­mer­hall venue – a key venue of the Fringe – has ex­pressed sur­prise and re­gret that artists do not merit the at­ten­tion of reli­gious fig­ures or the scru­tiny of the po­lice any more.

He made the re­marks launch­ing this sum­mer’s pro­gramme for the venue, which fea­tures a “raw and pas­sion­ate” 10-night ap­pear­ance by Pussy Riot.

The Rus­sian fem­i­nist punk rock group was im­pris­oned in Rus­sia af­ter per­form­ing in­side a cathe­dral as a protest against the church’s sup­port for Vladimir Putin, the Rus­sian Pres­i­dent.

Mr Mcdow­ell said he hoped the Sum­mer­hall pro­gramme would push back against what he said was a safe con­sen­sus at the fes­ti­val.

In Pussy Riot: Riot Days, one of the founder of the group, Maria Alyokhina, will present a me­moir of her ar­rest, trial and im­pris­on­ment.

Mr Mcdow­ell said: “It is in­ter­est­ing this year be­cause we have man­aged to stage an at­tack on Putin, through Pussy Riot.

“I don’t think Pussy Riot have ever played 10 times in a row, any­where in the world.

“The one thing I re­gret about Ed­in­burgh is that the po­lice won’t ar­rest them.”

He said the no Fringe per­former had at­tracted the at­ten­tions of the po­lice since the later-1970s.

The ar­rest of an artist in a nude suit in 1979 on the High Street had been a no­table mo­ment in the fes­ti­val’s his­tory, he said, but not one of­ten re­peated.

Mr Mcdow­ell added: “There are [shows] we have done which, looked at su­per­fi­cially, broke laws. But I am ac­tu­ally wor­ried that art cen­tres, the art world, or even the Ed­in­burgh fes­ti­vals have be­come a kind of a ghetto, which means as long as you do it within the con­fines of the ghetto then no­body is go­ing to have an is­sue with that – it’s just the ‘arty farty’ do­ing their stuff.

“We want to be more relevant than that. We want to have some­thing to say.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.