Fringe benefits threatened

Major Festival venues face new threats from Edinburgh City Council. This time the damage could be serious.

In August each year, the Edinburgh bandwagon begins to roll as the world‘s biggest arts Festival gears itself up for another massive celebration of theatre, music. culture and life itself. Visitors and locals alike may assume that it all happens with the whole-hearted support of the city institutions but, for those who scratch the surface, the tensions between art, commerce and political point scoring have been apparent for many years. Now the combination of new threats and cumulative damage from pressure to extract ever more revenue are beginning to create serious problems.

This month, the fate of the Assembly Rooms hangs in the balance. After twenty years

Howie The Rookie - just one of the many five star shows in this year‘s Assembly programme

building up its reputation as a Festival venue and bringing many award-winning productions to Edinburgh. Assembly Theatre company are threatened with the prospect of being denied access to the building.

The threat comes from City of Edinburgh Council who have put the building out to tender after years of disputes over rent rises. The closing date was 10 September, and apparently six organisations have expressed interest. although no details are available as to the identity of the individual bidders.

Edinburgh Council claim they will assess the bids more on the basis of artistic merit than cash (criteria split 70% ‘quality' to 30% ‘finance‘) but it is hard to believe that many other organisations will be able to match the achievements of Assembly Theatre who this year alone won six Fringe Firsts and extensive critical acclaim, Including a special Herald Angel award for the associate

director, Mary Shields.

But Assembly is only one of the venues currently under threat. Other Fringe promoters are complaining of demands for sharp rent increases in Council-run venues, plus problems with unreasonable extra charges and unco-operative licensing arrangements, where everything is left to the last minute disrupting programme schedules. Amongst all this, the Council's claims of generous grants being given are undermined when much more turns out to have been clawed back in raised rents and other charges.

At the same time, the future of the Council-run Usher Hall remains uncertain as it struggles to open for a few short weeks. then closes for eleven months while costly wrangles over poor maintenance and refurbishment drag on. The RSNO face many more damaging months without being able to perform in a proper concert hall in Edinburgh. (Robin Hodge)

DNA Fil to shoot in Scotland

Peter Capaldi: In a city near you soon

DNA Films, Duncan Kenworthy and Andrew MacDonald‘s mini-studio - one of three to secure funding from the Lottery through the Arts Council of England - has announced its first two productions: Strictly Sinatra and Creatures, both of which are to be filmed in Scotland.

Peter Capaldi (Franz Kafka’s It’s A Wonderful Life) will direct Strictly Sinatra from his own script with Ian Hart playing a Scottish-Italian club crooner who, obsessed by the legendary singer, falls in with a group of gangsters. Creatures will be directed by first-timer Bill Eagles from a script by Simon Donald (The Life Of Stuff) and will star Rachel Weisz and Susan Lynch as two girls thrown together by the violence of their boyfriends. Both films will be shot in Glasgow while Creatures will also shoot in Edinburgh.

‘lt's coincidental that the films are both set in Scotland,’ says Kenworthy. ‘It might look like the Andrew Macdonald influence and, but it‘s just luck of the draw; they were the first two scripts we had ready.’

The Lottery award provides Kenworthy (Four Weddings And A Funeral, Notting Hill) and MacDonald (Shallow Grave, Trainspotting, The Beach) with £29 million (which figure they must match) to make sixteen films in six years. Twelve are currently in development including John Hodge‘s next screenplay and another by Steve Coogan.

Strict/y Sinatra and Creatures, both budgeted around the £4 million mark, will begin shooting in October. ‘These films will have a strong local audience, initially,‘ says Kenworthy, ‘before going beyond to Europe and America.’

(Miles Fielder)


Bulletins Shortandtothepoint.

BAFTA SCOTLAND HAS been forced to postpone this year‘s Awards Ceremony for Film and Television due to Scottish Media Group's decision not to enter programmes for any of the TV categories. At a meeting with BBC Scotland, BAFTA agreed that Scotland's broadcasting would not be fully represented and that it would be difficult to sustain a broad range of categories.

‘We are very optimistic for the future of BAFTA Scotland Awards in the year 2000 and beyond,’ says BAFTA Scotland Director Alison Forsyth. “There are several dynamic ideas in the pipeline which will showcase the extraordinary skills and talent in Scotland's rapidly growing screen and interactive industries.‘

LEITH ACADEMY PLAYS host to a Festival of Writing on Sat 9 Oct. with Scottish novelist, poet, playwright and short story specialist Alan Spence popping along to encourage newcomers to put pen to paper. The event. which runs from 10am—6.30pm will involve a range of workshops covering all genres and aspects of writing. Day tickets (including lunch) are £15 (£7.50); for information and enrolment, call 0131 530 2776/553 2810.

SCOTLAND-BASED ARTISTS are being invited to apply for 100 residency projects which form an integral part of Scotland's Year of the Artist, which runs from June 2000—May 2001. The majority of awards are likely to be under £5000. and proposals can fall under ‘the broadest possible definition of community and artform‘. Applications must arrive no later than 4pm on Mon 11 Oct. and further details are available from Scottish Cultural Enterprise at or on 0141 339 2846.

THE SIGNET UBRARY, The Hub, the new Scottish Poetry Library. Scottish Widows Head Office in Morrison Street and Edinburgh Central Mosque are among 59 venues taking part in this year‘s Doors Open Day in Edinburgh on Sat 25 Sep. For a full list. send a stamped addressed envelope to The Cockburn Association. Trunk's Close. 55 High Street. Edinburgh, EH1 1SR.

23 Sep-7 Oct 1999 THE “81’ 25