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Fringe box office FAIL pushes sales down 10%

Bad weather, Olympics, leaves on line credit crunch blamed

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Ticket sales at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe were down ten per cent this year, in part because of the technical failure of its box office system.

Organisers at the arts fest admitted 2008 has been a very difficult year for the festival.

The Fringe launched its new Liquid Box Office electronic system in June, but it failed to cope with demand for the festival’s 2,088 shows, and organisers were forced on several occasions to completely suspend sales until the computer system could be fixed.

Last week Pivotal Integration, which supplied the system, went into administration following the major system cock-up with tickets.

Fringe organisers have insisted, however, that the dent in sales was caused by several factors and not just the box office system snafu. It blamed poor weather, the credit crunch and even the Olympics for the sluggish uptake of tickets at this year’s Fringe.

Despite being hamstrung by so many difficulties, Fringe director Jon Morgan claimed it had been a “fantastic year” with ticket sales surpassing the 1.5m barrier for the third consecutive year.

The Fringe sold 1,535,519 tickets for the event that ended yesterday and ran throughout most of August. That figure compares with 1,697,293 in 2007, so it sold 160,000 fewer tickets for this fest.

"At the start of the festival many were worried about the loss of venues, impact of the Olympics and the economy," said Morgan.

"In a difficult year, with record rainfall and problems with ticketing, Fringe-goers have come out in force and enjoyed the festival." ®

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