EdFringe Goes Online

Jul 15 2020 | By More

Fringe Society’s 2020 digital plans announced

Edinburgh’s fringe venues might be having a fallow year in 2020, but the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society is keeping the sprit of the Fringe alive with a series of alternative digital plans.

The Society has unveiled a whole raft of initiatives which will help everybody, from audiences to performers, to performance companies and venues who might want to hold an alternative Edinburgh Fringe online, from Friday August 7 to Monday August 31.

Edinburgh Fringe 2020 artwork, Butcher Billy. Pic: Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society

Key to the Society’s support for audiences will be a listings site which will act as a central navigation system for the various digital fringe options which are already beginning to appear. This will go online in the coming weeks.

It’s initial support for venues and performers is an indirect financial one. It is collaborating with Crowdfunder to set up a dedicated crowdfunding campaign, FringeMakers, which is already live and is available to any performer, company or venue.

“It’s hard to imagine a summer without the Fringe,” said Society chief executive Shona McCarthy, commenting on the launch of this year’s digital activity.


“The explosion of creativity and community that the festival brings every year is unparalleled,” she said, “and whilst we may not be able to provide a stage in Edinburgh in quite the same way this year, it feels hugely important that the spirit of this brilliant festival is kept alive.”

The Society will also provide a live-streamed show every Friday of the fringe with a 60-minute fringe variety show, produced and curated by an independent production company. This ticketed showcase will present the best of the festival across a range of genres.

Venues and acts will all be given the opportunity to sell tickets to the broadcast and will keep all the money they raise from these sales. Further details will be announced in coming weeks.

The popular pick’n’mix platform is going digital, with repurposed technology from 2019’s Inspiration Machine. Artists can upload one-minute films of themselves in action, which will be added to the selection. Just like the Fringe, anything goes, and anyone can take part.

The Society will be attempting to replicate its involvement with Edinburgh communities who experience barriers to participating in the festival (be they financial, geographical, physical or something else), which has developed massively since it was set up in 2017.

Full details of this will released in the coming weeks, but it says that it plans to “work with our Fringe Day Out partners and connect Fringe artists with local communities through digital interactive workshops and performances, as well as offering creative resources through targeted partnership projects.”

virtual Fringe Central

The major innovation for performers will be to create a virtual Fringe Central which, like the real thing, will allow them to meet up and collaborate, or talk to a member of the fringe staff in real time.

The hub will also be host to a series of over 30 events which will have either a specific industry focus, such as touring post-pandemic or digital skills developments, or will address wider industry issues of note, such as under representation of creators of colour or how to make performances more accessible.

McCarthy added: “The impact of Covid-19 has been devastating for the countless artists, audiences, venues, workers and small businesses that make this festival happen every year.

“The FringeMakers crowdfunding campaign is designed to support them, while the Fringe on a Friday live show and the Fringe Pick n Mix website aim to bring some much-needed joy to our devoted audiences both here in Scotland and all over the world.”

A further platform is being created to host a fringe marketplace to help promote tour-ready work. In 2019 the fringe accredited 1,600 arts industry delegates – producers, programmers, agents, director and buyers for TV and Radio.

The platform will be an attempt to replicate that interaction online, or at least create the kind of opportunities that the Covid-19 pandemic has denied arts bodies. The aim is to connect industry and artists while creating opportunities for peer review and future commissioning.

Fringe Programme cover

The Society is also launching a set of its own fundraising initiatives, repurposing the artwork commissioned from pop culture illustrator Butcher Billy for the cover of this year’s now abandoned Fringe Programme.

The images is designed to spotlight the heroes of the Fringe, “from the amazing variety of artists on stage to the backstage crew who hold it all together” according to the fringe.

“Despite not having a conventional programme to publish, the Society felt – and still feels – that this remains a message worth shouting about, arguably even more so now than before,” according to a statement from the Society.

“We’ve created a range of limited-edition Fringe merchandise to celebrate the programme that never was, including t-shirts, hoodies, magnets, notebooks, posters, prints and even our very own Fringe jigsaw.

“We’re also publishing Fringe Uncovered, a colourful art book of Fringe programme covers from throughout the festival’s history.”

Funds generated through the sale of merchandise will go towards the Society’s charitable activities supporting artists and audiences at the Fringe.


FringeMaker website: Click here for details.

EdFringe 2020 merchandise: Click here to shop online.


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