More and more alternative festival options are surrounding the Fringe and the Edinburgh International Festival: The People’s Festival, the Free Fringe, the Islam Festival, the Festival for Peace and Spirituality, The Internet Festival, The Politics Festival, the Annuale.
But these festivals have different reasons for their existence: some were born out of criticism of the existing Fringe and the Festival, like the People’s Festival –_ by the people for the people_ or the Free Fringe, describing the Fringe as an open arts festival that anyone can take part in ‘as long as they can afford’, and The entire Fringe is financed by the personal losses made by artists.
The first Edinburgh International Internet festival was launched in 1999 by disabled artist and community worker P.L. Steele, with the aim to create a_ digital hub _for the creative web based community and a platform for the visual arts during the Edinburgh festival. It involved online contributions from over 40 countries.
Other festivals have been born as additions, such as the Edinburgh Art Festival, or focus on a main aspect such as the Politics Festival or The Festival of Peace and Spirituality, which is in its 6th year now, and was started as a response to 9/11.
Sohaib Saeed, festival manager of the Islam Festival, states:
_The Festival was founded this year, although the exhibition has been organised for four and five years.
We want visitors to find out more about Islam, which is mentioned all the time in the news, but not often with the right connotations. Much of the Festival is free, because we want to appeal to the widest possible audience, to the local community, to people from all over the UK and to international visitors. We have had many international visitors in the past, especially from Poland. The festival is run entirely by volunteers.
These alternative festivals are often accompanied with an open, inclusive and accessible community feel. But they have also challenged and successfully changed the public face of the exclusive Industry Festivals.
The Edinburgh International Film Festival is offering now for the second year a community festival experience with free tickets for community groups to encourage their members to the film festival screenings who would not otherwise go. The Media Guardian International Television Festival is offering free public open air screenings in Conference Square over the weekend from August 25 -27, showing the newest episodes of Lost and Desperate Housewives. And the Edinburgh Interactive Entertainment Festival is offering free screenings and discussions with the creators of the latest computer games on 22nd of August in the Odeon on Lothian Road.
Deby Coster, PR manager for the Edinburgh Interactive Entertainment Festival, said:
The screenings are a chance for the public to get to know the creators. It is not about evaluating the games, but it is a chance to meet the creators and talk about the games, it is an opportunity to ask questions and get to know each other. The screenings are free, because we want to have as many people to come along as can, and we did not want any barriers.
Edinburgh International Internet Festival 2006
Online from Beltane (1st May) – Hogmanay (31st December)
Edinburgh Art Festival
27 July till 3 September 2006
28 July till 3 September
The Edinburgh’s People Festival
5-12th of August
The Free Fringe
5th till 26th of August
The Festival of Peace and Spirituality, including the Islam Festival
6 – 27th of August
Festival of Spirituality and Peace
Edinburgh International Book Festival
12th of August. to 28th of August
Edinburgh Interactive Entertainment Festival
22nd of August
The Politics Festival
23- 26th of August
MediaGuardian Edinburgh International Television Festival
Sat 3rd to Sun 4th of September
[Ref: critisism of the Free Fringe: http://www.laughinghorse.co.uk/freefringe.htm
More criticism of the Fringe: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edinburgh_Fringe#Criticism ]