International and Fringe Festivals

As Edinburgh empties out and the final awards are announced, it is time to look back over the International and Fringe Festivals, not only in sadness for what has passed but in celebration of what has been achieved.

The 2016 International Festival—the second for director Fergus Linehan—for the first time saw over £4m spent on ticketed events by audiences from 84 countries with classical music tickets flying out of the box office in a record year.

Free outdoor events saw estimated audiences of 27,000 for Deep Time for which digitally animated images were projected on to Edinburgh Castle and 250,000 for the closing Fireworks Concert live and projected across the city.

36 nations were represented by the artists in this year's programme including from the US The Glass Menagerie and Swiss-born James Thierrée in The Toad Knew.

Scotland's own Karine Polwart’s presented Wind Resistance and Alan Cumming sold out Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs.

Community event Songlines was composed of 12 choirs and soloists drawn from across Edinburgh and the Lothians performing in eight venues and the International Festival continued its work with school-aged children.

At the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, numbers were also up.

At the time of writing, the number of tickets issued is up nearly 8% on last year, just shy of 2.5 million.

Venues enjoying this uplift include theSpaceUK, which has 17 performance spaces and is behind the largest new writing programme of the Fringe; it saw an increase of 18% in ticket sales across its 326 shows from across the globe, its programme having been only slightly expanded on last year.

Spotlites Venue also had record audiences with 22,000 people seeing 70 shows performed by 750 artists including the company's largest international representation to date.

In the Fringe programme overall, 48 countries were represented in 294 venues across 3,269 shows including 643 free shows.

Numbers at Fringe Central, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society’s centre for artists and venues, similarly are up with 106 free developmental events; Fringe Central was also the winner of the Spirit of Inclusion award, part of the Accessible Edinburgh Festival Awards.

Which leads neatly to the more than 20 Fringe awards for 2016. Amongst the winners are:

  • Theatre Royal Plymouth enjoyed an excellent year with Fringe First Awards for The Duke (a co-production with HoiPolloi), World Without Us (with Ontroerend Goed), and Us/Them and OneHundredHomes (both part of the Big In Belgium mini festival).
  • OneHundredHomes and Bildraum won Total Theatre Awards whilst Us/Them was nominated for a Total Theatre Award and Bildraum and World Without Us were nominated for 2016 Fringe Sustainable Practice Awards.
  • Three awards went to JOAN, a Milk Presents in association with Derby Theatre and Underbelly Untapped production, which scooped a Fringe First Award, The Stage Edinburgh Award, and a Mervyn Stutter Spirit of the Fringe Award.
  • Comedian, theatremaker and activist Mark Thomas won two – a Scotsman Fringe First Award and The Stage Special Award for Mark Thomas: The Red Shed and Life According to Saki won the Carol Tambor Award, the prize for which includes a run in New York.

A full list of 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.