Is Art more important than Life?
I have spent weeks now, battling with my conscience. The financial, artistic, and moral implications of participating, or not participating, in this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I spent hours last night, writing an Open Letter to all Participants, Venue Operators, Festival Trustees, Directors, Staff, and all else. This morning, I felt the long-winded diatribe I had written could be edited, and encapsulated in a few questions:
1) Given the Global situation, and all medical evidence, so far, do the Government/ Local Councils/Festival Trustees/Directors/Venue Operators, and all powers that be, truly believe that COVID 19 will be over in early August, and a full-scale International and Fringe Festival (the largest in the World) will have no impact on the deteriorating health of the country? What do you think?
2) If the answer to the above is; Of course, it will have an impact, then, why are the powers that be not cancelling the Festival now? Festival Fringe is about to take in more and more registration fees, Venue Operators more rental fees, and many more businesses (such as accommodation agencies) are operating with a hopeful ‘business as usual’ attitude. From my communications with the Fringe, it seems everyone is waiting for the Government/Local Councils to make the decision for them. Meanwhile, head-in-the-clouds participants are going ahead with their plans too, ignoring the financial, let alone moral impact, all this will have on them. More importantly, not confronting the big question: Given the Global and more recent UK outbreak of coronavirus, should the Festival go ahead? Yes or No?
3) So, Participants, if your answer is YES, I urge you to do a little more research into the state of the world, and the worrying state of the UK, which will certainly worsen over the coming months. Also, maybe ask yourself why so many top bands, artistes and other festivals have already cancelled their tours and events? If your answer is NO, then I urge you to stand your ground, start preparations to withdraw from the festival now. I believe, just as with environmental issues, the People know what their conscience is telling them, even if they sometimes ignore it. We shouldn’t wait for the powers that be to make a decision we ourselves know is the right thing to do. Why wait for so-called senior bodies who put economy and business before common sense and delay the inevitable until it’s right for them? It’s time for Participants to do the right thing now. For themselves, and the Edinburgh people.
Finally, I am in the USA at present (but keeping tabs on UK developments) and some here regard the whole virus as a hoax (I wonder where that comes from?) and that only the elderly, and those with pre-existing conditions are at risk, as if that weren’t enough. How many such people live in, or will be visiting, Edinburgh during the festival? As a younger person, would you want to be part of an event that puts so many lives at risk?
I, with much regret, and apologies to all who were participating with me, am taking the decision not to participate this year. If one year without the festival saves only one life, it will be worthwhile. I predict it will be a hotbed of community transmission should it go ahead. Think. Act. Now.