Summerhall Director Robert McDowell - photo credit Dima Nechepurenko

Summerhall Director Robert McDowell – picture by Dima Nechepurenko

Summerhall’s Director Robert McDowell has paid tribute to the artists and shows who have put his venue at the centre of the Fringe thanks to record ticket sales and multiple award wins.

Attendances are up 30 per cent on 2015, with more tickets bought in the first two weeks than in the whole of last year’s Festival.

Staff in the building are preparing for another busy week after shows in the programme won six Fringe Firsts and received ten nominations in the Total Theatre awards, three times as many as any other venue. Many shows have already sold out all tickets for the rest of their run.

Mr McDowell said: “Despite some atrocious weather and the television draw of the Olympics, by the end of week two Summerhall’s festival attendances exceeded the total for 2015.

“Our programme is enjoying unprecedented critical acclaim with an average star rating by critics of over 3.8, plus six fringe first awards and a slew of other prizes and award nominations. There have been sell-out shows every day including in some of our biggest venues.”

This year Summerhall hosts 147 shows, with 1771 performances involving an estimated 276 performers.

Alongside the award-winning theatre and spoken word, the contemporary music programme, Nothing Ever Happens Here has seen Summerhall become the only place on the Fringe for music fans, filling the void left by the end of the Edge festival.

Rooms in the building have also been given to over to eight exhibitions and installations from award-winning artists, including former Turner Prize winner Laure Prouvost, attracting thousands of visitors.

Mr McDowell added that the success of the venue had been noticed by Scottish Government: “In her address at the BBC reception, Fiona Hyslop, the Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, said that Summerhall represents the arts and festival of the twenty-first century, emphasising our quality
and internationalism.”

Ukrainian flag flying over Summerhall - picture by Dima Nechepurenko

Ukrainian flag flying over Summerhall – picture by Dima Nechepurenko

That internationalism was highlighted earlier in the week when Mr McDowell raised the Ukrainian flag, in tribute to the Fringe First winning Counting Sheep, the immersive show that turns Edinburgh’s King’s Hall into Maidan Nezalezhnosti, Kiev’s central square during the country’s 2014 Revolution of Dignity.

Created in Toronto by Canadian-Ukrainian theatre artists Mark and Marichka Marczyk, Counting Sheep is one of 40 international shows in the Summerhall programme.

Mr McDowell continued: “Six years ago Summerhall felt like the fringe of the Fringe, but this year it feels very much more central.

“So far we have received over 350 critics’ star-rated reviews and several hundred top picks and recommendations.”