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Monday, 26 August, 2002, 15:57 GMT 16:57 UK
Fringe ends on a high
Edinburgh Fringe parade
The festival opened with a colourful parade

Hangovers are being nursed as the Edinburgh Fringe winds up after celebrating another record year.

As the curtain comes down on the final Fringe festival performance on Monday, the event's organisers have revealed that ticket sales have increased to 918,509.

It is the fourth consecutive year that box office receipts at Europe's largest arts festival have shown an increase.

Even given the rise in the number of shows to 1,500 - in comedy, theatre, music and performance art - organisers are adamant the figures confirm the Fringe is attracting more and more visitors.

Fringe Director Paul Gudgin says the increasing professionalism of shows could account for the added draw.

Fringe director Paul Gudgin
Fringe Director Paul Gudgin has led the event for four years
"The majority of shows this year have been very strong and overall there has been a greater degree of professionalism. But when you are competing at an event of this size you have to be good," Mr Gudgin said.

Offers

If so, the Fringe would appear to be moving away from its roots, namely its tradition of allowing the amateur to learn with less pressure and constraints than in areas such as London's West End.

But Mr Gudgin maintains this is still the case.

"More than 25% of shows in all areas have been world premières, which proves this is still very much a place for new writing," he said.

"And if you walk around the streets you see there are a lot of young faces among the acts."

Many shows have been offered places in London and abroad, including Zipp!, Bomb-itty of Errors, Deep Throat and Bounce.

Highlights have included the visit by Hollywood couple Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins, to perform the play The Guys.

In comedy, there have been less big names than usual and those that did take part stayed for the full Fringe run rather than for just a few dates.

Tina C
Tina C: Controversial show
Media coverage has been generally positive, and Mr Gudgin feels there has even been a difference in the way festival controversies have been reported.

"There have been a series of minor eruptions rather that one long-running controversy and they have been over interesting issues that have sparked intelligent debate," he said.

Equality row

These have included the rights and wrongs of making comedy from the events of 11 September, with shows such as Tina C's Twin Towers Tribute.

Equally, laughing about disability and serious illness such as cancer, in Andre Vincent is Unwell, has ruffled feathers.

The Perrier comedy award has once again caused upset. The row over the event's connection to food firm Nestle - which owns the brand - has again raised its head.

Protestors consider Nestle's sale of powdered milk to women in under developed countries as unethical because it denies babies of the nutrients in their mother's milk.

Daniel Kitson
Daniel Kitson won the Perrier prize
But the all-male shortlist was the more high-profile of the arguments around this year's contest.

As the dust settles over the Fringe for another year, the city's other festivals have also packed up.

The book festival, which ends on 26 August, has seen visits from authors such as Harold Pinter, Louis de Bernieres and Roddy Doyle.

In film, Bollywood star Shahrukh Khan's visit caused a stir. Meanwhile, at the TV festival, broadcaster Chris Evans grabbed more headlines than the industry bigwigs.

The international festival remains up and running until Saturday, offering visitors a rich mix of highbrow performance such as opera, ballet and classical music.

Coverage of the 2002 Edinburgh Festival from BBC News Online

The buzz

In focus

Fringe diarists

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Fireworks at the Palace

Edinburgh festival


See also:

01 Aug 02 | Entertainment
25 Aug 02 | Entertainment
21 Aug 02 | Entertainment
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