To understand how the Fringe Festival works, it is important to understand its history. In 1947, eight theater companies showed up to the first Edinburgh International Festival uninvited with the sole interest of performing. The following year, Scottish journalist Robert Kempt coined the phrase “fringe” to describe the performances outside of the International Festival. In 1957, ten years after the inaugural festival, the “fringe” companies began to work together, and by the late ‘60s there were over one hundred shows.
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society was born to help with participant services, information ticketing and act as overall advocates of the festival. In 1981 the Fringe became the largest arts festival in the world, and this year there are 2871 shows, 273 venues, 42000 performances, 24107 participants and it would take over 51 days without breaks to watch every show.
The Fringe Society provides many services to artists who are either interested in bringing a show to the Fringe, or are currently at the Fringe and in need of assistance. The venues/companies office is the first point of contact for people interested in bringing shows to the Fringe, and helps companies make decisions. The participant development office creates workshops such as the First Time at the Fringe to help new participants, and the artist development division provides support services and networking opportunities to artists. In addition to developmental help, the Fringe Society provides assistance with the media by keeping a record of every published review, as well as maintaining the clash book to avoid double booking media reviewers.
Each of the panelists was given the opportunity to leave us with a few final words. One said to “be sure not to give in to FOMO (the fear of missing out)” while another said, “sleep is for September!” Regardless which method you choose, I guarantee the Fringe Festival will be the best month of your life!