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Edinburgh Festival Offers Theater, Dance and Music From Around  World


It's show time at the 2009 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, where performers of all types converge on Scotland's capital, hoping to make some money and perhaps get noticed. "The Fringe", as it is commonly known, began as a funky alternative to the more traditional Edinburgh International Festival. But it is now nearly as popular, if not more so, generating around $130 million (80 million pounds) a year for the city even during the recession.

Thousands of people descend on the Scottish capital every year for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

The three week event in August features music, literature, dance and theater from around the world.

Despite the global economic downturn, ticket sales to the world's largest open access arts festival have grown 20 percent since 2007.

Street performers, such as human statue Lord Livingstone, say their hats are filling up. "If people go out to have a good time, often, people like myself who are street performers, may actually do better if there is a recession, because people might go, 'well, I'm not going to buy an eight pound [$13] ticket to see a show, but maybe I can put a pound or two [$2 - $3] in a performer's hat.'"

The Fringe started in 1947 when eight theater companies turned up uninvited to the more conservative Edinburgh International Festival.

This year there will be more than 35,000 performances at The Fringe, 3,000 more than last year. Some city residents are happy about the revenue generated by the festival.

Organizers say audiences still come during tough times because they like the lighter aspects of The Fringe.

Festival Arts Director, Tomek Borkowy, says he hopes strong ticket sales will help raise the profile of the arts. "In Britain, unfortunately, arts is not treated as an industry, it's treated as a burden. We try to show to authorities that we are industry, that we provide employment for a lot of people," Borkowy said.

With so many performances and tens of thousands of people attending, indeed, it could be good news for Edinburgh.

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