Culture & Business Fund

FESTIVALS | STREET ARTS

From Broadway to Edinburgh

Culture partner | Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society

Business partner | Playbill

The project
Since 1958, The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society has managed and delivered the world’s biggest arts festival. Each August, Edinburgh plays host to around 3,000 shows performed by artists from around the globe. For the 2023 Fringe Festival, two key deliverables were identified to help enhance the audience experience – a return of the Fringe App and an expansion of the free Fringe Street Events programme. The Fringe Festival is synonymous with street arts, with Edinburgh’s Royal Mile becoming the stage for a host of multi-artform performances that are delivered free of charge to the public, while the Fringe App enables festival goers to easily navigate a huge array of available shows, identity those shows geographically and then book tickets directly.

 

The partnership
A trusted institution of the US arts scene, Playbill has a 140-year history as the quintessential publication for theatregoers. Under its distinctive yellow banner, Playbill highlight the best of theatre and musicals through reviews, actor biographies and more.

With an international reputation, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society regularly attends events in key audience markets, one of which is the US. To help deepen engagement with both the US arts industry and its audiences, the Fringe Society regularly attends and participates in events such as Tartan Week and the International Society of the Arts Congress. This led to Playbill reaching out to the Fringe Society to discuss a partnership. Playbill identified the Edinburgh Festival Fringe as an important storehouse of creativity and saw an opportunity to both promote their monthly publication and expose their audiences to a wide variety of new shows delivered at the world-famous Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The additional awareness and knowledge gathered from the partnership will now be utilised in the 2024 Festival Fringe, when Playbill and the Fringe Society will together host the Fringe Cruise Ship in Leith docks.

The partnership, supported through match funding from the C&BS Fund, ensured that two key deliverables of the 2023 Fringe Festival were made possible. Firstly, the Fringe App was reintroduced after being absent in 2022 and secondly, the Fringe Street Events schedule was significantly enhanced in 2023. With an estimated footfall of one million people in the city over the three weeks of the Fringe Festival, the expanded Fringe Street Events programme provided a carnival atmosphere in the heart of the city and gave audiences the opportunity to experience even more of the Fringe, for free.

The positive outcomes
The addition of these two key deliverables played an important role in delivering a successful Fringe Festival in 2023. For the Fringe Society, the return of Fringe App proved exceptionally popular with 144,000 users and 23% of overall ticket sales made via the app; the ‘My Planner’ function was used 1.8m times during the Fringe Festival. After its absence in 2022, the return of the app was welcomed positively by venues, artists and audiences alike.

The C&BS Fund played an instrumental role in enabling the delivery of an enhanced Fringe Street Arts programme in 2023. The main focus of the match funding was around the Festival Taster Stage, a key area that provides a platform for performers, the local community and schools. Over the 2023 Fringe Festival, the street events area of the Royal Mile hosted 500 performers, which played a vital role in making the Festival Fringe accessible to as many people as possible and enriched the overall festival programme and audience experience.

Funding from Culture & Business Scotland this year allowed us to extend the footprint of our partnership with new sponsor, Playbill, and enhance the experience of our Street Events programme for both audiences and performers. The funding helped us to deliver clear signage to, and branding of, the performance spaces on the Mound, in central Edinburgh, adding value to our partnership and supporting audiences to see free shows. A key element of this was the Fringe Taster Stage, a popular area for artists, local community groups and schools to perform at the Fringe. Our thanks to the team at Culture & Business Scotland for their kind support this year.
Westaly Duignan, Head of Fundraising and Development | Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is an event like no other and one which Playbill were proud to partner with in 2023. We were delighted that the C&BS Fund supported our partnership with the Fringe, enabling us to benefit from additional exposure within the Fringe Street Events programme, whilst providing the Fringe Society with much needed extra funding.
Phil Birsh, CEO | Playbill

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