Fringe Venues and Street Events Awarded £1.58 million In Resilience Funding

Submitted by edg on Thu, 26 May '22 8.35pm
Fringe Pirate Musical on Mercat Stage, Royal Mile
Robert Alstead

The Fringe Society today announced that 13 Fringe venues will be awarded a share of £1.275 million from the Fringe 2022 Resilience Fund.

Developed through the Scottish Government’s Platforms for Creative Excellence (PLACE) programme, the fund is designed “to support resilience, recovery and creativity” across the festival in its 75th anniversary year.

The £1.275 million is part of a £1.58m award to the Fringe through PLACE. The remaining £305,000 has been allocated to support the ongoing resilience of the Fringe Society and includes £55,000 to support the delivery of Street Events during August.

Recipients of the Resilience Fund funding are an array of well-known names from the Fringe, including the Big Four: Assembly, Gilded Balloon, Pleasance, and Underbelly. 

BlundaBus and Laughing Horse, who have produced shows along a pay-what-you-want ticketing model, are also recipients.  

On the comedy side, there’s Just The Tonic, Monkey Barrell Comedy, and the Scottish Comedy Festival, with Greenside, Summerhall, theSpaceUK, and ZOO completing the list.

The awarding panel was chaired by the Fringe Society, and included the advice of Creative Scotland, City of Edinburgh Council and EventScotland.

Shona McCarthy, Chief Executive, Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, said the funding is “absolutely vital” in helping the Fringe to bounce back from the disruption caused by the pandemic.

“It’s fair to say that the last few years have been the most challenging in our festival’s history. Now, as we prepare to enter our 75th anniversary year, creatives across the Fringe landscape are working hard to ensure that this incredible festival not only survives, but continues to work hard to be the best version of itself.”

How the funding will help

Four key pillars were considered in choosing the funding beneficiaries: Creative Programming, Risk Management, Fair Work, and Sustainability.

Here is a summary of how each of the venues intends to deploy its funding.

Summerhall is planning a range of creative work at the festival, including supporting two under-represented artists to make new work in response to 75 years of the Edinburgh Festivals. To address sustainability, they aim to lead the way as a flyer free venue and will implement e-ticketing. Within their workforce, they are looking to create a brand-new Fringe Learning Management System, which will help onboard workers through online learning.

BlundaBus’ funding will support their return to the Fringe after the pandemic. They actively work to programme and support alternative and experimental artists, as well as artists for whom cost is a barrier to participation, offering both performance and ‘green room’ spaces to support artists. Since 2019 they have been working to develop a programme of work centred around women and LGBTQ+ performers. They are champions of the Pay What You Want ticketing model to support affordability at the festival, and embed sustainability across their practice by reducing single use items and prioritising sustainable materials in their infrastructure.

Greenside’s funding will allow them to continue operating as an open programming venue, giving artists from non-professional backgrounds a route to access the festival. It will also support them to increase staff pay further, from Living Wage to paying every team member above the Real Living Wage; facilitating the creation of an additional 24 Festival jobs paid above the Real Living Wage. To address sustainability, they will move to e-ticketing, transition their programme from print to digital, and look to reduce omissions across their technical operation.

Just The Tonic will use the funding to support their programming of high-quality comedy and to support and underwrite costs for artists who are still recovering from the pandemic. In 2022, their venue The Tron will be programmed with female performers only, with the aim of addressing gender imbalance in the comedy sector. They will continue their Pay What You Want ticketing model to help with affordability, and as part of their commitment to fair work, all staff will be paid Living Wage.

theSpaceUK will mitigate costs for artists who have been impacted by the pandemic, whilst keeping access to the festival affordable for creatives. As a champion of both emerging and established artists, they will continue their commitment to open access programming and supporting new and original writing. They will continue to operate as a Living Wage employer and to offer a programme of staff training.

Gilded Balloon will continue to support emerging artists and their development. In consolidating their programme, they plan to reduce the number of overall shows to allow for increased turnaround times between shows (allowing for a better experience for artists, staff and audiences alike). While all staff are already paid the National Living Wage and above, this fund’s support will enable them to increase the number of staff on site and reduce staff hours. They are also investing in e-ticketing to support sustainability and are reducing the number of flyers produced by investing in digital marketing.

Laughing Horse have received support for the delivery of a range of activities associated with the Free Festival. To address sustainability, they are looking to fully replace their printed programme with an app and improved mobile website. They will run mental health support sessions for performers and staff before and during the Fringe, and they have committed to a BSL interpreter for several performances to improve access to deaf audiences. Funding will also support them with equipment costs and with the hiring of paid ticketing staff.

Underbelly’s funding will allow them to increase their minimum pay offer for temporary festival staff from the National Living wage (which they already pay) to the Real Living Wage. They will also use the funds to hire additional short-term staff to support their existing team during the busy Fringe period, thereby improving working conditions and reducing working hours. To address sustainability, the support will allow them to invest in e-ticketing. They plan to enhance their accessibility programme with extra captioned shows and a range of shows with BSL interpreters. Support will also help with the build and maintenance of their temporary venues, and accommodation for their staff during the Fringe.

Monkey Barrell are looking to use their funding to continue to programme diverse and inclusive line-ups, whilst creating greater opportunities for local acts, unrepresented performers and those from non-privileged backgrounds. They are looking to create a community focused artistic hub to enable creatives to come together at the festival. As of 2022, all year-round staff previously on Living Wage are now paid the Real Living Wage. This fund will allow them to extend this to all temporary staff during the Fringe, and to create a staff development programme to upskill and develop their wider team.

ZOO’s programming in 2022 is aimed at better reflecting the lives of under-represented or minority audiences, and support from this fund will allow them to subsidise core costs for creatives. Work by disabled artists is already central to their programming, and this funding will allow them to improve access to their audiences with enhanced BSL, audio description and captioned performances. They will continue their commitments to paying staff Living Wage and above and to paying freelancers above the recommended rates. They will also continue to support their volunteer programme – which includes budget to address areas such as transport, access needs and childcare. Funding will allow for Covid mitigations – such as enhanced cleaning, and provision of masks and hand sanitiser.

Pleasance will use the funding to reduce the financial risk to artists attending the Fringe – with targeted interventions which will support debut and early career creatives. They plan to increase the number of employees in their workforce, reduce working hours during the festival, reduce the ratio of volunteers to paid staff, and provide increased opportunities for staff training. Some funding will also be used to invest in key infrastructure to improve their offering to artists and audiences, such as a reinforced Wi-Fi network to be able to facilitate e-ticketing.

The Scottish Comedy Festival will be able to continue its work in programming local acts at the Fringe. Their model is centred around affordability and mitigating financial risk for the artists, and they are especially keen to support working class performers. To further support affordability, their programme will continue to feature a mixture of Pay What You Want and Pay What You Can shows.

Assembly’s funding will be used to support artists’ attendance at the festival, by assisting with core costs such as accommodation, marketing and underwriting risk. Their programme, which celebrates 40 years at the Fringe this year, includes emerging artists and those from diverse backgrounds, as well as established performers. Assembly Festival is a Living Wage employer and will use this fund to support increased training for staff and will also use it to mitigate against rising costs. They also aim to undertake research into post-pandemic audience behaviours and will continue their work as a sustainability champion.