IT is often hoped to be the beginning of a great career. And while the Edinburgh Festival Fringe has catapulted many actis to fame, for others, it has left them with debt and misery.

Now it has been reported in the Guardian that some have pledged to avoid it altogether.

What’s going on?

Seventy-five years ago, the Fringe began as an accessible and affordable festival for all to enjoy. Over the last few years, more and more reports of “soaring accommodation costs,” have led people to claim that the festival is pricing itself out of existence.

William Stone, a BBC New Comedy Awards finalist in 2018, said earlier this year that accommodation prices in the city during the festival are a “scam” and had created a culture of exclusion for those from poorer backgrounds who cannot afford to spend the month in Edinburgh.

Why is it so expensive?

Lauded as one of the top cultural events in the world, the Fringe brings more than one million visitors, artists and performers to Scotland’s capital every year. But this means that landlords also recognise that they can capitalise on this.

There are now claims that extortionate accommodation costs are pricing out acts who want to appear.

The Sunday Times reported that one three-bedroom flat in the city was being advertised for more than £10,000 a month, with one New Town four-bedroom house priced at more than £27,000.

Where have previous performers been staying?

In a piece for the Guardian, Rose Johnson mentioned that she had performed at the Fringe eight times. When she could finally afford a room of her own, “it didn’t have a window or a door,” she recalls. “The landlord had just put a bed in a cupboard.” Fellow comic Jack Evans had a similar situation. “The first Fringe I did, I slept on the linoleum of a kitchen floor.”

Others told their stories of sleeping on sofas or shared beds. One comedian even survived the month living in a tent.

What does this mean?

While performers attend in the hope of becoming the next Fleabag, Mighty Boosh or Garth Marenghi, ultimately, if something doesn’t change, it will mean that only performers from wealthy backgrounds can pitch up at the Fringe.

Landlords let out buildings for performances and accommodation, but no one regulates costs or conditions, meaning they can charge extortionate prices in exchange for bad living conditions. And it isn’t only the accommodation that seems to be extortionate: a 2018 Fringe Society survey found workers were paid below the minimum wage.