Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society has for the fifth year launched its flagship community engagement programme, Fringe Days Out that has seen nearly 10,000 people participate since starting as a pilot programme in 2017 to mark the Festival’s 70th anniversary.
Fringe Days Out involves partnerships with 33 schools, community groups, charities and organisations around Edinburgh, and provides Fringe vouchers, bus tickets and additional support to help marginalised communities engage with the festival.
Chief Executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society Shona McCarthy said “It is so important to us that Fringe Days Out is back for another year. This project started out as a modest thank you to people in Edinburgh for hosting the Fringe. We feel it only makes sense that Fringe Days Out should make the festival available to those who feel on the fringes of the city and the arts, no matter their background or circumstances.
“This project is about breaking through the barriers that stand in the way of people and communities in Edinburgh engaging with the arts. And while there is undoubtedly more work to do in making the Fringe fully inclusive and accessible, I am proud of this step along the way.”
Supported by Baillie Gifford, the Fringe Days Out provides partner organisations with free ticket vouchers for the Fringe and bus passes, so that cost is not a barrier to participation and engagement with the Fringe. The provision of Fringe ticket vouchers empowers people who may otherwise not engage with the Festival to explore the full Fringe programme, allowing them to see any show at the Fringe.
Some Fringe Days Out participants are often unfamiliar with the city centre and the programme gives them the support and opportunity to travel outside their immediate neighbourhood, developing their confidence and experience of the city, without the potential barrier of paying for transport. For groups that experience challenges around bus and tram access, some budget for taxis is included.
The Fringe Society works with a broad range of individuals and groups across society with partner organisations including Citadel Youth Centre, Vintage Vibes, Multi-Cultural Family Base and Dads Rock. The groups involved are trusted partners in their communities who have built long-lasting relationships with their members and these relationships are crucial to the success of Fringe Days Out.
As an example, the Broomhouse Hub (Youth and Families) have said “We are all delighted that Fringe ’22 is taking place and we can’t wait to get involved. The young people and families we work with will again soak up what is a great atmosphere.
“We have been involved with Fringe Days Out from the beginning, and we receive great support from the Fringe Society.”
While Capability Scotland remarked “It’s great having different people of different cultures from all over the world visit and perform.”
“What an amazing journey: watching our service users choose what they would like to go and see, trying new things and having an adventure with their friends… enjoying themselves, talking about what they saw at the Fringe and writing about it in their newsletter.”
“It’s been great seeing the performers, dancers and musicians put smiles on our service users’ faces and getting them to interact with each other, all with fun and laughter!”