Fundraising campaign aims to raise £7.5m to support Fringe

Save the Fringe has been set up to aid the long-term recovery of the festival following the pandemic.

Fundraising campaign aims to raise £7.5m to support Fringe iStock

A £7.5m fundraising campaign has been launched to aid the long-term recovery of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. 

Save the Fringe, organised by the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, has been set up in response to the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on the annual festival.

The fundraising campaign aims to support artists and venues, break down barriers for those looking to participate in the Fringe and build and support sustainable practices across the festival.

Save the Fringe have also indicated they want to deepen engagement with Edinburgh residents about the annual festival, as well as speak with young people from underrepresented areas of the city. 

Edinburgh Gin have invested around £150,000 from the sales of itsEdinburgh Gin Presents Phoebe Waller-Bridge collaboration into the campaign, and around £160,000 has been raised by individual donors.

The campaign is expected to take place over three to five years and criteria for distributing the fund will follow a series of consultations held later this year in a bid to understand the individual needs of stakeholders. 

Edinburgh residents, artists, venues, producers, local businesses and more will be invited to explore ways the festival can develop and improve.

The funding will then support a renaissance for the Fringe in the future, led by the Fringe Society’s findings.

Shona McCarthy, Chief Executive, Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, said:“The last 18 months have been the most challenging in the Fringe’s history, and everyone – from artists and venues to the Fringe Society – has experienced huge losses. 

“I’m so proud of what’s been achieved in 2021, and in so many ways, this year’s festival was a success. Over 940 shows were brought to life, incredible new venues were created in the most imaginative of spaces, and audiences flocked back to experience the magic of the Fringe.

“But it can’t be stressed enough: this does not mean the Fringe is back to health. 2021’s scaled-back event only happened because of emergency grants, and in many cases, loans that now need to be repaid.

“We want to ensure the Fringe that returns reflects the world we live in – not just those who can afford to keep going.

“Recovery isn’t about going back to how things were. It’s about reimagining the Fringe as the best version of itself and using this moment of pause to reflect and change. 

“We want everyone – from residents and local business owners to artists, operators and audience members – to have their say on what that looks like. And we’ll need support to make that vision a reality.”

Benny Higgins Chair, Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, said: “The Fringe is one of Scotland’s greatest cultural exports. It is recognised internationally as a landmark celebration of the arts and is an access point to culture for so many people.

“But the Fringe is not publicly funded in any meaningful way, and the last 18 months have shown us how much urgent investment is needed to protect this world-renowned event.

“An estimated £20m was lost in 2020 alone. To make 2021 a reality, many operators relied on loans and emergency grants. This is not sustainable, and this campaign is about undoing some of that damage, while building a more affordable and equitable Fringe.

“This campaign will give us a foundation to do just that.”

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