Fair fringe?

Aug. 14th, 2017 07:47 pm
swaldman: A sparkly bauble. (bauble)
[personal profile] swaldman
It seems that there's a campaign going in Edinburgh this year, which has popped up on social media for me a few times, called Fair Fringe - calling for everybody who works on the Fringe to be "treated with respect and paid a decent, living wage". Well, I can't argue with the first part of that - respect is good all round - and usually I'm all for fair wages. But in this case, I find I'm not so sure.

Now, I should note that my experience is only my own, that it's out of date, and that it's concerned only with the theatrical, not comedic, side of the Fringe. I should also note that I'm thinking here of people involved with and invested in the art of what's going on; bartenders, for example, who could be doing the same job somewhere else, may well feel differently. But in general, there isn't a lot of money in theatre. Outside of a few investors and producers in the West End, and a tiny minoriry of performers, AFAIK nobody is getting rich. I haven't had sight of the balance sheets, but I've never seen anything to suggest that any but the largest and most prestigious of fringe venues and productions aren't run on a shoestring. Fair Fringe alledge that "events companies make massive profits from the creativity, enjoyment and hard work of people from all over the world". If this is true, I agree that it should change, but they don't present any evidence to back it up.

So yes, it's true that conditions for people working on the Fringe are poor; in my own days as a technician I remember 12-hour shifts, 12 people sleeping in a 3-bedroom flat, and so forth, for a symbolic rate of pay that didn't come close to matching the cost of living. Really, it'd be better to think of us as volunteers than employees - some probably are - and that doesn't even start to touch on the countless performers in profit-shares who make a loss. But, we're not doing it for the money.

People know before they come that it doesn't pay. People do it because they love theatre, and because they want to be a part of the world's biggest festival. Yes, young workers and performers are exploited, but I always worked on the assumption that we were willingly exploited not to make somebody wealthy, but to produce a vast number of shows; shows that are sometimes amazing, sometimes awful, but nearly always totally unviable, financially, to put on in a conventional setting with professional staff[1]. A significant proportion of these shows, perhaps even a majority, still lose money in Edinburgh.

I'm all for the Living Wage, but I don't think the public would put up with a massive increase in ticket prices to pay for it. I can't help thinking that insisting on it on the Fringe would just kill off most of the small venues and the risky, innovative productions, turning the supposedly grass-roots alternative to the International Festival into a slick, corporate operation[2] that only presents big names who are guarenteed to drive the box office.

PS - obviously there are some Fringe employers / organisers who are worse than this, who miss out not only the "fair pay" part but the "respect" part. I worked for one of them for a few days once and quit, due to conditions that were needlessly poor. That's a different matter, because there are also those that aren't like that.

[1] Yes, there are some shows on the Fringe that could play happily in theatres all round the country any time of the year. Yes, there are some shows that do. But it's a tiny fraction.
[2] Many would argue that it already is. Parts of it have certainly headed that way. But there's plenty else still going on.

(no subject)

Aug. 12th, 2017 10:18 pm
[personal profile] swaldman
I have no wish to wade into the stuff around recent events in Charlotteville in general, but seeing some of the reporting has left me wondering,

How the hell does a police force safely and fairly provide a public order and potential riot-control presence while they are watched over by a load of citizens with automatic weapons, who have a clear alliegence with one side but are not themselves breaking the law?

Enhanced eyes

Aug. 11th, 2017 03:38 pm
ruthi: a photograph of a dormouse eating a berry (Default)
[personal profile] ruthi
I booked an eye-test. (Online, at Specsavers). Then I realised I wanted to have it on another day, so I moved it, twice, via the email booking notice they had sent me and their webpage. It was easy.

I finally had the eye test done today, this morning.
And it was fine. Much looking at bright lights!
Many: which is better, this one or this one? I felt so free to know that 'they're the same' is a valid answer.

The conclusion was basically that my prescription has changed a tiny little bit but not really that much. So I do not need new glasses.

I told everyone I had an eye test last year, but actually now I have looked it up it was two years ago. Mostly I am writing this post to have a record of when this eye test was.

(no subject)

Aug. 11th, 2017 03:21 pm
ruthi: a photograph of a dormouse eating a berry (Default)
[personal profile] ruthi
July was a month with much theatre. Two theatre:

Derek had booked us tickets to see Angels in America: Millennium Approaches ,Read more... )

Friend Hunter mentioned a musical - Yank! - because a friend of his, Sarah-Louise Young stars in it. So I looked it up, and it is set in WW2 and has men soldiers in love in it. Read more... )