Edinburgh Fringe Festival: A Risk Assessment

Convener(s): Alison|Goldie 

Participants: Drew Davies, Fiona Watson, Bernie Byrnes, Natalie Querol, Sally Christopher, Chris Grady, Lucy Wigmore

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

What are the risks?

Not getting what you want from taking a show to Edinburgh.

What do you want?

  1. To find promoters for future work eg a tour
  2. To make money
  3. To find new audiences
  4. To raise profile
  5. To get press reviews 

What would be the impact of failing to get what you want?

Debt, wasting your time, being demoralized.

What might go wrong?

  • The Fringe box-office system not working properly (as in 2008).
  • Bad weather.
  • Venue not being what you thought it was.
  • Not getting an audience.
  • Losing money.
  • There’s no word of mouth about your show.

How can you get the best results from going to Edinburgh?

Decide if you want to trust that the computer system will work. One venue manager in our group thought it would be fine this year as The Fringe is returning to an older, more reliable system.

Pray for good weather.

Plan properly.

Use the Fringe website and advice eg roadshows (reduced this year but on in Edinburgh and London)

Choose the right venue for your show. What sort of material do venues put on? Are you a ‘fit’?

Create a budget. Ask other people who’ve been before to let you see their budgets. Look at cost of venue, ticket price, minimum audience you need, potential audience, the guarantee the venue wants, print, accommodation, transport, props, advertising, hiring PR, PRS fees, insurance etc

If new, visit Fringe before playing there.

Advertise. Is it worth advertising in The Guide? (half of group said Yes, half No). Paper-click advertising can work. Edinburgh Fringe TV do podcasts. Use banner advertising on Fringe website.

Have arresting print. Keep costs down by printing in Edinburgh. Get flyposting done by Street Team (crazy fly-posting team, bordering on illegal)? Maybe.

Think of it as a trade fair. Can be worth the financial loss for what you get out of it in other ways. If you want to make money, don’t bother.

Network like mad and talk to lots of people about your show.

Get out on the streets and flyer your show. Exit flyering thought to be best plan (at venues of similar shows in particular).

Know who you want to come to your show. Write profiles of 6 different people in your ideal audience and work out how to reach them. What newspapers do they read? Where do they hang out?

Have more courage and more faith in venues, even the big ones. You CAN strike deals, negotiate price, venue managers will point you in the direction of more suitable venues if their’s isn’t right for you. It’s worth seducing venue managers with a free lunch to make contact with them.

Look at free venues: Laughing Horse (comedy), Forest Festival (may only get a very short run but BAC producers often visit), Peter Buckley Hill (8/9 venues). These tend to work on the principal that artists don’t pay to play, audiences don’t pay to see (but may give donations) and are reclaiming the spirit of the early Fringes by being cheaper for artists and non-commercial.

Costs savings idea: share transport of sets/props up there.

Check out other networks eg There was a one-person show network last year.

Finally, and most importantly: if you get a cold sore, buy a pot of Melissa, the fabulous wonder-unguent for restoring your lost beauty.

Alison Goldie  www.thedramabusiness.co.uk