Edinburgh 2017: figures and awards

Reporter: Sandra Giorgetti

Dateline: 11th September, 2017

Edinburgh Festival Fringe

It was a special year for the Edinburgh International Festival and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe which celebrated their respective 70th anniversaries in August.

There would be no Festival Fringe without the orthodox Festival to be on the fringe of, but on grounds of size this look back at last month's events starts with the bigger of the two.

Audience numbers for the Fringe Festival overtook those of its counterpart as they do every year by a country mile, or perhaps in this case it should be a Royal Mile.

Whilst International Festival attendance is estimated to be over 450,000, tickets sold for Festival Fringe events at the time of writing were 2.696 million.

This represents a 9% rise on last year which itself was close to an 8% increase on its previous year.

2017 saw 3,398 shows across 300 venues up on last year where the comparators are 3,269 and 294.

Amongst the 300 venues this year were a swimming pool, a boat, a bathroom, a football ground, a tunnel and a racecourse, each one a testament to the imagination and fortitude of the artists who courageously embrace the Fringe.

Firsts included the world's first attended mobile toilet and changing facility for people with disabilities who can't use a standard accessible toilet, in partnership with disability charity PAMIS, part of an initiative to increase accessibility to Fringe participants. This included the introduction of a Venue Access Award, developed in partnership with charity Attitude is Everything.

60% of the entrants to the Fringe Schools Poster Competition were from schools new to the scheme, which this year saw the winning design from each of three age categories grace the front cover of the Fringe programme.

The Fringe Society also presented its largest ever programme of professional development events for Fringe participants—119 free events in total looking at international touring, participation and engagement, and skills development.

The reach of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe goes far beyond the boundaries of Scotland's capital however.

Not for nothing are the numbers up for participating international companies and artists.

These included the Czech Showcase, a collection of dance and physical theatre performances presented at ZOO Southside, The Fall presented by Baxter Theatre from South Africa, and host of creatives from South Australia presenting Made In Adelaide.

The birth of the fringe movement in Edinburgh in 1947, in whose footsteps 200 fringes across the globe have sprung up, was marked with the launch of World Fringe Day.

As well as international support from 100 fringes and individuals via social media, locally the Fringe Society donated £50,000 worth of vouchers to families and individuals via 26 charities.

No review of the Fringe would be complete without some mention of the award programmes which also continue to proliferate.

New this year is the Stepladder Award presented by theatre company Les Enfants Terribles in collaboration with Farnham Maltings based house, an enterprise aimed at furthering theatre in the South East, and in association with London venue Wilton’s Music Hall. This was won by ThisEgg for Me and My Bee which also picked up a mention for Significant Contribution to Sustainable Practice.

Also new is The Mental Health Fringe Award run by the Mental Health Foundation with the support of the Tron Theatre in Glasgow and the Scotsman newspaper. Mental presented by Kane Power Theatre took this one home.

Selina Thompson, whose show Salt won an Amnesty Freedom of Expression Award, a Stage Award and a Total Theatre Award, also took away the inaugural Filipa Bragança Award. This recognises an emerging female solo performer working on the fringe. The award has been created in memory of actress Filipa Bragança who died tragically young last year.

The Pleasance, which this year had 258 shows in 27 venues, has launched an in-house award scheme. Named The Indies after the Pleasance founder's dog, this award scheme includes awards for best poster design, best newcomer and Spirit Of The Pleasance.

Dave's Funniest Joke Of The Fringe Award continues to get media attention. This year, its 10th, it went to Ken Cheng for “I'm not a fan of the new pound coin, but then again, I hate all change.”

A list of awards and winners is to be found in the following pages starting with the prestigious awards from The Scotsman Fringe First Awards and The Stage Awards and then in alphabetical order.

The 2017 Edinburgh Festival Fringe ran from 4 to 28 August. Next year it will run from 3 to 27 August with the Fringe World Congress running from 16 to 20 August.

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