The Edinburgh Festival Fringe – the world’s greatest open-access festival
You may have heard us mention that the Fringe as an open-access festival, but what does that actually mean? Well, for one thing, it means that unlike most arts festivals, no-one’s in charge of deciding which shows get to take part. We’ve no curators, no judges and no programme directors; there are no themes or content criteria that artists have to fulfil when registering their show. The Fringe was founded on a very simple ethos: anyone with a story to tell and a venue to host them is welcome. No matter who you are or where you come from, everyone is welcome at the Fringe.
That ‘open access’ ethos also extends to our audiences. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, the charity established by artists to act as custodian of the Fringe, is committed to removing any barriers that prevent people from attending the Fringe, be they physical, societal, financial or otherwise.
- It’s why we’ve undertaken several measures to make the Fringe better for Deaf and disabled people, including making the Virgin Money Street Events more accessible, and encouraging venues to participate in our Venue Access Award and consider how to make their spaces accessible. We also provide free-to-borrow sensory backpacks to make the Fringe experience more welcoming for autistic children and adults.
- It’s why we encourage diversity at the Fringe, including through our partnership with the British Council on the Emerging Producers’ Development Programme, which ensures that producers who identify as disabled and/or black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) can access the programme. In addition, we encourage participants from all over the world to attend – 63 countries will be represented onstage this year – and we work hard to maintain the festival’s permit-free status so artists can travel here easily.
- And it’s why we’ve embarked on initiatives to make the Fringe more affordable, including via our Fringe Days Out project, which distributes ticket and travel vouchers to charities and community organisations around Edinburgh in order to make the Fringe more accessible to people who might normally feel excluded from it.
We’re not kidding ourselves – there’s still plenty to do to make the Fringe as open as possible for everyone. But we’re working on it. And you could maybe help us get there sooner.