360 "Keep It Fringe" Shows To Receive £2,500 From UK Government

Submitted by edg on Wed, 3 Apr '24 6.59am
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The Keep It Fringe Fund for artists bringing their shows to the Edinburgh Fringe, will be returning this year and in 2025 with larger awards, for more artists.

The inaugural Keep It Fringe was launched by Fringe Society President, and Fleabag creator and star, Phoebe Waller-Bridge last year "to give anyone a stage and everyone a seat".

A total of 50 artists received grants of £2,000 to help with the costs of putting on a show at the Fringe, in particular the disadvantaged. More than 670 artists applied.

This year the UK government picks up the baton and will be providing 360 grants (180 each year) of £2,500 for Fringe artists. 

The £1m fund was reallocated from £7m that had originally been ring-fenced for the development of the Fringe Hub. The large allocation for the project drew criticism from many quarters of the Fringe at a time when affordability was biting, putting the Fringe Society on the defensive

The Fringe Hub moved a step forward last month when Edinburgh City Council agreed a long lease with the Fringe Society to convert the South Bridge Resource Centre into its hub. 

The announcement of Keep It Fringe funding is all the more sweet as it comes days after the Fringe failed to secure £155,000 from Scotland's own arts funding body Creative Scotland to support Fringe artists. 

The Fringe Office said ongoing discussions with the UK Government's Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) led to the £1m being reallocated toward the Keep it Fringe fund.

Of the funding announced, £900,000 will go directly to support artists over two years, with £50,000 per year used to support administration and payment to freelance assessors involved in the process, as well as accessibility and event support for funded artists at Fringe-time.

The funding should help remove some of the financial pressures and offer some certainty to artists, allowing them to take more risks and be more willing to experiment.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge said: "All artists need is financial support and to otherwise be left alone to come up with whatever they are compelled to say. To have the Government support this fund is to feel the sun come out from behind a cloud. Thank you to the Fringe Society for endlessly campaigning for artists and thank you to those in Government for recognising the cultural importance of the Fringe and the artistic freedom that defines it."

Shona McCarthy, Chief Executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, added: "We are absolutely delighted to announce the continuation of the Keep it Fringe fund thanks to generous support from the UK Government. With a vision to give anyone a stage and everyone a seat, we recognise that for many, the financial challenges of putting on a show can prevent some artists from coming to the festival. This funding will enable the Edinburgh Fringe to be more accessible than ever to artists from across the UK and will level the playing field for many.

"In a time of uncertainty for the cultural sector, this funding has allowed the Fringe Society to establish an artist fund for the next two years, and for that we give our sincere thanks to the UK Government."

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer MP said: "The Fringe has launched the careers of countless comedians, writers and actors, giving emerging talent a golden opportunity to showcase their work to new audiences at the largest arts festival in the world.

"In order to protect this talent pipeline and nurture the next generation of British artists, we want to ensure performers can afford to stage shows at the Fringe. This funding will improve the festival's accessibility for performers and allow more artists to realise their ambitions at the festival."

Applications for 2024 will open on 11 April 2024.

Keep It Fringe FAQs (provided by the Fringe Society)

What is the Keep it Fringe fund?  

The total fund available for 2024 is £450,000, which will be made up of 180 awards of £2,500. The remaining funds will be used to deliver support services for the successful artists through our Artist Services team throughout the year and at festival-time, as well as fees for assessors and the administration.

Bursaries are designed to help artists on their Fringe 2024 journey and can be spent on any costs associated with their show. The Fringe Society will award £2,000 of the fund up front, with a further £500 to support admin and reporting, to be paid after the Fringe upon receipt of reporting.  

Who is the fund for?  

The fund is for individual artists and companies bringing work to the Fringe in 2024.  

Eligibility criteria

  • Your show must be registered for the 2024 Fringe (registration will be confirmed before funds are paid, but does not have to be completed when you apply, and you can register anytime up to and during the Fringe)
  • You must be a UK-based performer, or applying on behalf of a UK-based performer
  • You must be presenting live and in-person performance

How do artists apply for it?  

The Fringe Society anticipates there will be an excess demand for funding which will require assessments to be made. The application will ask the following questions:  

  •     Tell us about your show and what stage you're at in your plans for Fringe 2024 (200 words max)
  •     Tell us about your budget and how this will help (200 words max)
  •     Tell us what you hope to achieve in Fringe 2024 and your ambitions for your show (200 words max)

The Fringe Society wants everyone to be able to apply and will be running online information sessions to support those who don't have experience of applying for funding. The application itself will be kept as simple as possible and access support will be available where needed.  

Applications open at 12:00 on 11 April and close at 10:00 on 29 April. Award recipients notified week commencing 13 May.

What are the assessment criteria?  

  •     We want to hear about your show in your own words
  •     Applications should demonstrate how the show captures the defiant spirit of the Fringe, taking advantage of the Fringe as a unique platform to tell untold stories
  •     The fund aims to support professional performers / artists / creators or individuals with professional ambitions for their work who can demonstrate an existing level of planning for Fringe 2024
  •     Applications should set out clear ambitions for the future life of the piece of work being funded and / or the artist's career
  •     While no budget is required and there are no ineligible costs, the details of the spend should be clear, specific and informed costs relating to bringing your show and the 'value added' by the funding
  •     Funding will be prioritised to artists who don't have an existing high profile and artists who face barriers to funding / the arts more generally
  • Applicants will be assessed by external specialists to identify those that demonstrate the greatest need and the boldest ideas. Applications will be assessed and scored, and the 180 highest scoring applicants will be awarded funding.  

How can artists find out more?

On 09 April, the Fringe Society team will be hosting an online webinar where artists will have the opportunity to find out more and ask any questions they may have. Information will be shared on edfringe.com and on Fringe social media channels on 03 April.

About the Edinburgh Festival Fringe: The Edinburgh Festival Fringe will take place from 02 - 26 August 2024. More information about the programme and tickets can be found at edfringe.com.

About the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society: The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society is the charity that underpins the world-renowned Edinburgh Fringe. It was established in 1958 by a group of artists to provide central services for the festival and ensure that it stays true to its founding purpose of inclusion and welcome to all. We exist to support and encourage everyone who wants to participate in the Fringe; to provide information and assistance to audiences; and to celebrate the Fringe and what it stands for all over the world. Based on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, the Society has a small team of staff who work year-round to assist all the artists and audiences who make the festival one of the best loved performing arts events on the planet.

In 2022, as part of the Fringe's 75th anniversary, the Fringe Society launched a new collaborative vision and set of values, and made a series of commitments to become more inclusive, fair and sustainable. The vision is "to give anyone a stage and everyone a seat".

Our three values will guide the behaviours and decisions of everyone involved with the Fringe: celebrate performing arts, be open to all and look out for each other. The Society will live by them, champion them and uphold them where necessary.