Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society Announces 2020 Digital Programme

In April 2020, it was announced that this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe would not be going ahead as planned. However, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society (EFFS) has now unveiled alternative digital plans to take place this summer, complementing a variety of activities planned by Fringe artists and venues.  

Under the current challenging circumstances, creatives from across the Fringe landscape will be bringing versions of their work to life digitally. From live streamed performances to nostalgic throwbacks and community-focused events and support sessions, the spirit of the Fringe will live on in the work of thousands of Fringe artists and venues, and the Fringe Society will help audiences navigate them through a central listings service on edfringe.com.

EFFS Chief Executive, Shona McCarthy, said, “It’s hard to imagine a summer without the Fringe … “Little did we know way back in autumn, when we first started talking about this year’s programme artwork, how prescient the superhero theme would be today. We’re happy to be able to shine a spotlight on some of our Fringe heroes now, as we rally round to support the people that make your Fringe. On the other side of this, we’ll need them more than ever…  The FringeMakers crowdfunding campaign is designed to support them, while the Fringe on a Friday live show and the Fringe Pick n Mix website aim to bring some much-needed joy to our devoted audiences both here in Scotland and all over the world.”

The artwork for the Fringe Programme cover that never was, designed by contemporary artist Butcher Billy, is based on the theme of the Heroes of the Fringe that will be accompanied by a range of limited-edition Fringe merchandise to celebrate it. As well as the usual items, this year there will be a Fringe jigsaw and a colourful art book of Fringe programme covers from throughout the festival’s history named Fringe Uncovered.   Funds generated through the sale of merchandise will provide vital support for the Fringe Society’s charitable activities in helping artists and audiences at the Fringe and is available to purchase now on edfringe.com now.

The Fringe Society and Crowdfunder have teamed up to launch a new crowdfunding platform, FringeMakers, which will support Fringe artists and venues to raise vital funds in the absence of a Fringe this year. Through the FringeMakers platform, venues and artists will be able to register as part of a central Fringe campaign, paying no fees and keeping 100% of funds donated for their own cause. Participants can offer rewards for donation, such as access to their own livestreamed shows, custom merchandise, exclusive content and much more.

Crowdfunder has waived all fees for this project, and are providing participants with tailored support to enable them to raise as much money as possible during the month of August.

As part of the FringeMakers campaign that will be launched on Monday 13 July, every registered venue and artist will have the opportunity to raise money for their project by selling tickets to a weekly livestreamed variety show – Fringe on a Friday.

Fringe on a Friday is a 60-minute Fringe variety show produced and curated by an independent production company, which will be streamed every Friday evening during the Fringe. This will showcase the best of the festival across a range of genres, including comedy, music, dance and cabaret. Venues and acts will all be given the opportunity to sell tickets to the broadcast and will keep 100% of the money they raise from these sales.

Instead of the normal city wide event, this year the Fringe will be staged in living rooms across the world.  Viewers will be able to pick a particular clip to watch or a mixed stream of continuous Fringe entertainment, with the ability to interact and comment on the videos as they play out. Audiences can show their appreciation by donating to a central artist and venue survival fund and explore additional content via their social media channels.

Although the physical space of Fringe Central that is home for the Fringe community during August is impossible this year, it also has been created virtually with over 30 digital events open and completely free to all artists.

The Fringe is the world’s largest arts marketplace and the EFFS is also launching the digital Fringe Marketplace, a dedicated showcase platform to connect arts industry delegates all over the world with tour-ready artists who were programmed as part of this year’s Fringe. 

On 06 August, Penguin Random House Audio, who will donate a percentage royalty to help support EFFS, will release Edinburgh Unlocked, an exclusive comedy festival in audiobook format showcasing a range of well-known Fringe comedians.   

Starting on 17 August, Comedy Central International is spotlighting ten rising comedians in seven-minute stand-up episodes across Comedy Central International’s Facebook, YouTube and Instagram platforms. On 28 August highlights will air in a 22-minute TV special on Comedy Central UK and internationally.

Since 2017, the Fringe Day’s Out programme has enabled nearly 10,000 free visits to the Fringe for local Edinburgh residents at risk of social isolation, connecting the Fringe Society to over 30 community organisations and the EFFS is keen to maintain relationships with Edinburgh’s communities as much as possible during the usual Fringe period in spite of the Coronavirus.

It may be the Fringe, Jim, but not as we know it, but enterprise is clearly the name of the game for 2020!

Irene Brown

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