Page last updated at 15:25 GMT, Saturday, 16 August 2008 16:25 UK

Fringe change call over ticketing

Edinburgh Fringe website
The Fringe ticketing problems emerged in the weeks running up to the festival

Edinburgh's Fringe Society has held its annual general meeting, amid calls for a change to how it is run.

The board is responsible for the running of the festival, which has been beset with problems at its box office.

The AGM was heated, with one venue director claiming the Fringe had been brought to the brink of disaster, but the board stood firm.

An independent inquiry has been ordered which will examine the ticketing problems and the future of the society.

The Fringe Society was set up almost 50 years ago, when the festival was just a fraction of the size it is today.

A board of 15 directors is elected annually and many of them are themselves venue directors and performers.

It is responsible for appointing the director and making sure the festival is kept on a sound financial footing.

It can't be right that just 78 votes determining the fate of a festival which more than two million people participate in
Tommy Shepherd
Director of Stand Comedy Clubs

The board had some big issues to consider at Saturday's AGM - not least problems with the centralised Fringe box office - which led to a number of shows being overbooked or described as sold out.

Board member and Fringe performer Simon Fanshaw said: "We made the decisions that we thought were right - you don't make a decision and hope it goes wrong.

"You make decisions because you take advice and weigh up the balances.

"And when something like this happens, we have to learn from it - it's a real learning experience for us."

Tommy Shepherd, director of the Stand Comedy Clubs, said he wanted to see major changes to Fringe operations.

The Fringe Society itself has just 78 members.

Tommy Shepherd said: "That can't be right. Just 78 votes determining the fate of a festival which more than two million people participate in.

"So I'd like to see the Fringe Society have a big constitutional review - I'd like to see it change and I think the main debate will be whether it's an individual membership association or a federation of producing venues."

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