The Edinburgh ‘Fringe’ Festival will soon be opening (5th-29th August) and host a range of acts including comedians, dancers, artists and musicians. Alongside the ‘official’ shows and ticketed events will be a variety of street performers – each becoming part of the largest arts festival in the world that has been held in Scotland’s capital since 1947 (with the Festival Fringe Society established in 1959). Their official website states that “In 2010 we enjoyed a record-breaking 2,453 different shows staging 40,254 performances in 259 venues by 21,148 performers.” The Fringe prides itself on being an ‘open access’ arts festival, meaning that street performers in particular can put on a show as part of Fringe with no selection process and be part of a programme that is not curated. This creates a unique environment and arena for ‘performance’, as well as a particular type of engagement with the audience(s).
In his recent article published in Area (currently on earlyview), Paul Simpson discusses the geographies of street performance and “the acts of audiencing that members undertake in relation to this” (2011: 1). He uses street performance as an example through which to explore the role of video methodologies in contemporary geographic research. The paper reflects on his research – during which he played guitar in Bath, UK and videoed the street performances – and focuses specifically on the giving and receiving of donations, linking these practices to debates on affect, embodiment and ethnography. Whilst ultimately a paper that critically reflects on using video as a research method, Simpson’s research on street performance highlights debates on everyday and artistic practices, many of which can be seen at the Fringe Festival.
The nominees for the 2010 Mercury Prize were announced today, including Dizzee Rascal, Wild Beasts, Foals, Mumford and Sons, veteran Paul Weller and hotly-tipped indie trio the XX. This annual music prize for the best album released in the last year traditionally boosts sales of all nominees, and the eventual winner, by massive margins. The nominations are also used by critics and commentators to judge the current state and ‘health’ of the British music industry, as only artists from the UK and Ireland are eligible for the prize. The winner will receive £20,000 and will be announced at a ceremony on 7th September in London.
In an article published in Area in 2008, Allan Watson examines the role London plays in the global music industry. Drawing on debates from economic geography, Watson highlights the “characteristics of knowledge transfer in London’s recorded music industry through an examination of organisational connections on local and global scales”. Watson argues that “knowledge transfer within the industry occurs simultaneously across multiple geographical scales, with certain organisational connections facilitating the transfer of tacit knowledge across organisational boundaries”. The Mercury Prize is one small example of the ways in which London’s recorded music industry facilitates and promotes particular artists and labels, but is intimately tied to global markets and functions across multiple geographical sites and scales.