Elections for EdFringe

Jul 10 2020 | By More

Society GM fails to pass constitutional amendment

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society will elect three new members to its board of directors, after a specially convened general meeting failed to amend its own rules.

The current board had recommended that it would be “unadvisable” to elect new board members during the pandemic, with EdFringe 2020 cancelled and the Society taking a £1m loan to stay solvent.

However it failed to get the required 75% majority at the meeting. The election process will now start and the Society says it will seek to bring more diverse voices to its board as it now enters the usual annual election cycle with nominations to the board open from next week.

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society’s shop on the High Street. July 2020. Pic: Thom Dibdin

The General Meeting was held by Zoom on July 8 specifically to change the Society’s constitution to allow it to suspend elections for a year and so temporarily reduce its elected board members from 12 to nine.

According to the note to Society members outlining the reason for the change, “the existing board agree it is unreasonable and unadvisable to bring new directors onto the board currently, due to the increased workload and risk, as well as the challenges of ensuring new directors are well informed and inducted with a stretched executive team resource.”

The Society’s chief executive Shona McCarthy told the meeting that the Society would have become insolvent after the cancellation of its support for this EdFringe 2020 because of its decision to refund all moneys to venues and artists, where it not for the £1 million loan from the Scottish government.

increased demands

She noted the increased time and accountability that will be demanded from individual board members over the coming year. She pointed out that supporting and inducting new board members would put increased demands on staff when the EdFringe team is already at a reduced capacity.

A total of 47 members eligible to vote were at the general meeting with a further 7 putting in proxy votes. As 37 voted for the motion with 16 against and one abstention, the motion failed to get the 75% backing it required to pass, as an amendment to the constitution.

Shona MCCarthy, EdFringe chief executive

The result comes as something of a surprise as it contradicts an indicative vote taken at the meeting. Shona McCarthy has now written to all members with the result and a note on what the Society intends to do as a result.

She says: “We had hoped to use this year to communicate more widely about the work of the Society, to grow the membership and expand the diversity of that membership.

“There have been repeated calls from members and others to bring more diverse voices to the board of the Fringe Society, but this is only possible if we can sign up members and encourage them to be nominated to stand.

“The Fringe Society staff and board will be doing all they can to achieve this in the limited time and with a much limited staff in 2020 – we know there is much to do and we will take all the steps that we can this year alongside developing plans for 2021 and beyond.”

nominate new voices

She also made a direct plea to the Fringe Society’s members to help it in recruiting new members from more diverse backgrounds.

She said: “we need your agency and urgency in this, to encourage members to join, nominate new voices, stand aside to let a more diverse or less represented candidate stand – the Fringe Society answers to its membership as represented on our Board, so if you’d like to see change then we need you to take responsibility and help us.”

Membership of the Society is now open for renewal and nominations for the new board will open this coming week. McCarthy added that anyone who wanted to talk to her about being nominated, standing for election and being a trustee should get in touch.

Links and details

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society is a membership organisation. Members should be interested in the well being of the Fringe and can join by paying an annual £10 fee.

Members vote in three new board members every year, one from each category of Venue, Show or Open.

Details of how to become a member of the Society are here: https://www.edfringe.com/support-us/

Board members stay in post for four years. The board can appoint additional members with specific skills to help it function. There is no payment for being on the board, although expenses are reimbursed.

The current board has 17 members. It was recently announced that the appointed chair, Tim O’Shea, would remain in post for an extra year.

Current members representing the Venue category are Anthony Alderson (Vice chair), Luke Meredith, Tara Stapleton and Katy Koren – with Anthony Alderson standing down this year.

The Open category is represented by Judith Doherty, Richard Wiseman, Stephen Allison and Matt Panesh, with Judith Doherty standing down this year.

The Show category is represented by Kate Smurthwaite, Susan Morrison, Toby Mitchell and Mirsolava Bronnikova, with Kate Smurthwaite standing down this year.

The current additional members are Fiona Davis, Tari Lang, Gillian Harkness and Colin Adams.


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  1. EdFringe Board: Noms Open : All Edinburgh Theatre.com | Jul 24 2020