MEP Calls On Fringe Festival Accreditation Review

01 September 2010

"Review the reviews and reviewers"

As the curtain falls on the Edinburgh Festivals for another year SNP MEP Alyn Smith, an alternate member of the Parliament's Culture Committee has praised the "best year yet" but called on festival organisers to review their reviewing accreditation process for next year.

The MEP, who himself invested in 5 star production "Putting it Together", and took some holiday to see a total of 23 shows as well as speaking at a Book Festival event, has written to the Head of the Fringe, Kath Mainland, asking for more effective monitoring of reviews and for more weight to be given to the Scottish press to ensure local knowledge and cut down on potential abuse of reviews as PR.  The Fringe Society office accredited 161 UK-based organisations to carry out reviews this year. Smith has copied in Culture Minister Fiona Hyslop MSP.

Smith has suggested that the various organisers of the Festivals, particularly the Fringe, should explicitly lead patrons to the reviews by the Scotsman, Herald, The List and The Skinny.

Smith said:

"The festivals seemed bigger and better that ever this year with 2 million tickets sold, I always take a bit of time off to enjoy the richness, commitment to excellence and creativity, and craic, that we can enjoy.  Hats off to everyone involved!

"However it seems that anyone with a pen was reviewing the festival this year and we were all left dizzy by all the amount of 4/5 stars emblazoning the capital.

"Some shows rightly deserve high acclaim, however others certainly don't and this in turn undermines acts that rightly deserve the credit, especially if there is a suspicion that the reviews are being abused to plug shows that are more about hype than artistic merit.

"Everyone local knows you only pay attention to the Scotsman, the Herald, the List and the Skinny, but foreign visitors come from far and wide and are often left confused by what shows to see, especially if every flier has a million stars on it.  As it's a Scottish Festival it only seems right that the Scottish press should be the yardstick media. I have written to the Head of The Fringe congratulating her on the success of the festival and asking to meet with her to discuss reviewing, pun intended, the current reviewing accreditation system for next year.

"The biggest star of the festival was without a doubt, Edinburgh.  We should all be proud that it has made a name for itself as the world's leading festival destination, and make sure that that success is not undermined by shonky PR."