Fleabag star launches £100k bursary for Edinburgh Fringe performers

Some of the money will come from the actress's own charity as well as from donations to the Fringe Society.

Fleabag star Phoebe Waller-Bridge has announced a new £100,000 bursary for performers at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe.

Some of the money will come from the actress’s own charity, Fleabag for Charity, as well as from donations to the Fringe Society and its partnership with Edinburgh Gin.

The Keep It Fringe funding will be split into 50 awards of £2,000, meant to help artists and companies on their Fringe journey and can be spent on any costs associated with their show.

Actress and writer Waller-Bridge won acclaim at the 2013 Fringe with her one-woman show Fleabag, which was later developed into the award-winning BBC series.

“For a creative, the festival is one of the most unique places on the planet to launch work, meet other artists and be discovered by audiences, agents, producers and the media,” she said, announcing the bursary.

“For me, today’s announcement is incredibly personal.

“Edinburgh Fringe gave Fleabag a game-changing platform for everyone involved and we are thrilled that the show can continue to pay-it-forward to the creatives of tomorrow and contribute to those who might not otherwise have the opportunity to take their work to this amazing festival.”

It comes after criticism in recent years of the rising costs associated with attending and performing at the festival, with fears people were being “priced out” of going.

In 2019, before the pandemic lockdowns, the eight major producing venues at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe sold 1,965,961 tickets – but projected ticket sales fell by 25% in its first full year back to just 1,486,746.

It is not unusual over the Fringe to see desperate pleas on community Facebook groups of people asking to use a spare room because other options are too expensive, and there have been reports of hotels almost doubling their prices per night for during the festival.

Individual artists and companies bringing work to the Fringe in 2023 will be eligible for the award, provided:

  • Their show is registered in the 2023 Fringe (registration will be confirmed before funds are paid, but does not have to be completed when you apply, and they can register anytime up to and during the Fringe).
  • They are a UK-based performer, or applying on behalf of a UK based performer
  • They are presenting a live and in-person performance.

Shona McCarthy, chief executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society said: “We recognise how difficult the last few years have been for the cultural sector, and today’s announcement is a very direct way for us to give some support for artists performing at this year’s Fringe.

“We are massively grateful to Phoebe, and all our donors, for their generosity and ongoing support of the work of the Fringe Society.

“This fund is a first step in what we hope to be an ongoing opportunity for Fringe artists.

“We will be actively encouraging new donors and Fringe alumni to work with us through this simple initiative, to get support out quickly and effectively to give someone a stage.”

Applications open at 12pm on March 10, and will close at 12pm on March 24, and links to apply can be found here.

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