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One of the main venue operators for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival has said its future is at risk following the collapse of Coventry City of Culture Trust.

A woman and a boy attending a Coventry City of Culture event

Coventry City of Culture Trust

The future of a major venue operator for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival has warned that its future is in jeopardy after Coventry City of Culture Trust went into administration.

Coventry City of Culture Trust, the charity responsible for running legacy projects following Coventry’s year as UK City of Culture, appointed administrators last Tuesday (28 February).

Assembly Festival, which ran the Assembly Festival Gardens in Coventry during the City of Culture year and delivers around a fifth of the Edinburgh Fringe, says it is owed close to £1.5m by the charity.


The Coventry Telegraph reports that the organisation is calling on Coventry City Council to "take responsibility" for its situation. 

In a letter sent to members of the council on Friday (3 March), Assembly Festival's Artistic and Company Director William Burdett-Coutts said his organisation worked for nearly two years on delivering the Assembly Festival Garden.

"With the news that the Coventry City of Culture Trust has been placed into administration, we are left in a position of being owed £1,476,550, of which £419k is VAT," the letter said.

"Assembly Festival is a small organisation and this level of debt prejudices our entire future. Our company works with most of the major festivals and theatres in the world and each year presents over 200 shows as part of the Edinburgh Festivals, delivering some 20 per cent of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe."

"We believe from both a moral and legal point of view, the Coventry Council should take responsibility for this. The purpose behind the whole City of Culture award is to regenerate, elevate and connect the host city.

"Coventry City has gained from some £172m of improvement to the public realm along with £44m that was brought in to run the year. What we did was of great benefit to the city as well, as was clearly demonstrated from comments from people around the city."

Calls for an inquiry

Meanwhile, calls have been made for an investigation into the circumstances that led to Trust going into administration.

The Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said questions needed to be asked of the trust, which was responsible for overseeing legacy projects from the year-long City of Culture celebration and received a £1m loan from Coventry City Council in October.

“We need to know why this happened. This organisation has had a lot of public money. We need to understand exactly how we got into this situation,” Street told BBC Radio Coventry.