The Edinburgh Festival Fringe: the World’s Fringe
The curtain has fallen on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for another year. Shows took place in 317 venues across the city, ranging from large theatres to a chicken coop with a capacity of just three.
Audiences were encouraged to take a leap into the unknown and sample the unparalleled variety of shows on offer. This year’s Fringe Programme addressed a wide range of issues including sex and consent, political uncertainty, gender equity, class, religion, and featured thousands of performers, from famous faces to those making their first appearance on a stage.
Over 2.8 million tickets were issued for 56,796 performances of 3,548 shows spanning ten genres including theatre, dance, music and comedy, and thousands of performers descended on the city. Incredibly, the Fringe is now comparable in scale to the FIFA World Cup (and second only to the Olympics), delivering £173m of economic benefit to Scotland each and every year.
55 countries were represented on stage at the Fringe in 2018, and showcases were presented from countries including Canada, France, Finland, Taiwan, Korea and Australia. As well as being the world’s greatest platform for creative freedom, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is also the largest arts marketplace in the world. The Fringe Society work year-round to ensure international arts industry presence at the Fringe. This year, over 1,360 presenters, venues and programmers from 44 countries came to Edinburgh to discover work and talent, exchange ideas and develop collaborations.
The Fringe is at the centre of a global movement of over 200 fringe festivals, each inspired by Edinburgh’s example. The second World Fringe Day which took place on 11 July was another global digital celebration of everything and anything fringe – organisers, performers and fans of fringes all over the world were invited to take to social media to share what made their own fringes special. The celebrations began in New Zealand with the most easterly members of the fringe family before concluding in O’ahu, Hawaii 46 hours later. More than 18 million Twitter users saw the campaign on the day with the hashtag #WorldFringeDay trending across the UK.
It has taken over 70 years to establish the Fringe as a global meeting place for creative talent. In uncertain political and economic times, it’s more important than ever to support the people who make the Fringe happen each year, from political advocacy to media coverage, partnership working to funding for artists to and from the Fringe.
The Fringe’s international ambition, alongside seven other major ambitions, is detailed in the Fringe Blueprint, a statement of intent that will inform everything the Fringe Society does over the next five years. Like the Fringe itself, it will require a huge collective effort – from participants, audience members, government, councillors, businesses, partners and funders – but together the world’s greatest platform for creative freedom even can be made more accessible, affordable, connected and relevant than ever before. For more information on how you can help, visit edfringe.com /blueprint.
By Brigid Kennedy, Marketing Manager at Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society Ltd.
Photo credit: David Monteith-Hodge.