LONDON is to go head to head with the famous Edinburgh Festival Fringe next August by extending the London Bridge Festival into a full-city event.
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“London needs its own festival fringe,” said Greg Tallent, the man behind both the LBF and the new scheme.
“There’s lot of activity in August, a lot of people visiting London, a lot of arts performers living and working in the city who want to show their work.”
A large proportion of performers at Edinburgh come from London and go back afterwards to seek bookings, which might be seen as wasted effort and Tallent hopes to lure comedians to his event with the promise of saved cash.
“It costs a lot of money to do a show in Edinburgh,” said Tallent.
“It’s a big stake for a young performer. It seems to us that for young people who haven’t got the money, doing it where they live and work is going to help them.”
All that might be true, but why not have the new festival at another time – the LBF was in July – to avoid clashing with the well-established Edinburgh Fringe?
“Quite simply it’s the best time for London,” said Tallent.
“There’s a lot of audience in London in August. They come in to a cultural capital and that’s the time we should have our fringe.”
Tallent is today meeting people from a variety of off-West End theatres, including the Almeida and the Hackney Empire, to discuss his ambitious plans.
Meanwhile, the Edinburgh Fringe doesn’t seem too worried by the threat.
“We are very relaxed about this,” said a spokesperson.
“We have just had the best year ever, and we are the pre-eminent open-access arts festival in the world.”