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Last Updated: Friday, 7 April 2006, 10:23 GMT 11:23 UK
Venues angry at Fringe costs hike
Fringe production Manifest Destiny
Manifest Destiny was staged at the fringe Festival last summer
Venues at the Edinburgh Fringe festival have condemned a big increase in the cost of performance licences issued by the city's council.

Edinburgh City Council has more than quadrupled the cost of the licence in some cases, but says it will phase the changes in over three years.

All venues have to purchase a theatre licence before shows can perform.

The organisers of the festival, which starts on 6 August, said they were "deeply concerned" by the costs.

'Financially prudent'

The council said new laws meant the costs of its licensing scheme had to be recovered from venues.

Councillor Jack O'Donnell, convener of the licensing regulatory committee, said the scheme had been operating at a deficit of 177,000.

"This is not financially prudent," he added.

Edinburgh Festival parade
Edinburgh's Festival kicks off with a parade through the city

For small venues of fewer than 200 seats, the temporary performance licence jumps from its 2005 cost of 127 to 440 this year.

Next year it will increase once again to 620, while from 2008 a further rise to 800 will be imposed.

Larger venues of more than 1,000 seats will pay 1,320 for 2006 compared to 295 last year.

The Fringe Society, the official body representing those who manage and perform at the August event, said it was "deeply concerned about the council's decision to make these sharp increases in theatre licence prices".

Economic boost

"This is going to affect all Fringe venues to some extent, but it's particularly the smaller venues who will suffer," it added.

Venue managers contacted by the BBC News website said the council was ignoring the huge amount of money the festival brought to the Scottish capital.

A recent Edinburgh City Council study concluded the Fringe brought more than 75m to the local economy each year.

Aidan Quinn
Hollywood star Aidan Quinn appeared at the 2005 fringe

Thomas Sandford of Paradise Green Promotions, which manages the Greyfriars Kirk House venue, said he was "hopping mad".

He said: "We don't budget to make money, we're a non-profit making group. We're going to have to re-asess how we do this in future years."

William Burdett-Coutts, artistic director of Assembly Theatre, which manages the largest Fringe venue The Assembly Rooms, said: "It's shocking."

"The Fringe sets an example, it's very successful and brings huge revenue to the city. instead of giving support the council just seems to take the money."

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