This week at McEwan Hall there took place a large unruly meeting - or ‘consultation’ as the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society would have it. It was the final of four such gatherings dotted around the country intended to harvest our opinions on the future constitution and form of the Society, much in need of an overhaul as its own board admits.
I suspect most who were there would agree that not much emerged from this particular consultation, punctuated as it was by the usual barracking from the usual critics of the board which wasn’t much helped by the presence of an independent ‘facilitator’ - he should have been a referee but ended up compering possibly the largest unticketed hecklers’ show in the Fringe. Nevertheless, for a moment there Pleasance founder Christopher Richardson was a beacon of hope and reason and, although not expected to play any prominent role at that particular moment, I was impressed by the efforts of Society director Kath Maitland and unflappable board member Pip Utton to bring this unscripted show to a dignified finale of sorts.
Still, it was encouraging to see so many people there. You don’t have to be a member of the Society to make your voice heard and indeed you must make your voice heard. Anyway, not many people have ever bothered over the years to become Fringe Society members, preferring instead to vent off unfettered at the annual August AGM. And this year you can’t become a member in any case because the Society has frozen membership until next November (well, that’s how they vaguely put it) although on August 20 they are expected to vote on how the new constitution should look - and that includes on who is and isn’t eligible to be a member.
So get on down to the Fringe Annual General Meeting on Saturday August 21 to hear the results and how the new constitution affects you. It’s at Fringe Central in Crichton Street. It’s free, non-ticketed and on page 160 of the programme so you’ve no excuse. Make your voice heard and presence felt. It is your Fringe and, whether you’re a performer, promoter, punter, front of house, journalist or venue owner, the Society represents us all. Its arcane structure as a charity and rules from a bygone age may make it less transparent than one would wish, but change is in the air. Be sure to be part of it.