Writer and comedian Deborah Frances-White will deliver the Fringe Central Welcome Address on Friday 3 August, sharing her own Fringe experiences and welcoming performers to this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The welcome address marks the start of the Fringe and this year celebrates the 10th anniversary of Fringe Central, the Fringe Society’s centre for performers, venues, media and arts industry professionals attending the Fringe.

Download the Fringe Central Events Programme

Deborah hosts The Guilty Feminist podcast, which has reached 30 million downloads, with live recordings taking place in the UK, New Zealand, Australia, Denmark and America. Her BBC Radio 4 show, Deborah Frances-White Rolls the Dice, won the Writers Guild Award for best radio comedy in 2016 and her first feature film as a screen writer, Say My Name, was filmed in 2017. Deborah has performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 10 times, making her stand up debut with Deborah Frances-White Is Phoning It In in 2006.

The 2018 Fringe Central Events Programme, published today, is the largest ever, featuring 125 professional development sessions that will run throughout August. All are free for Fringe participants to attend.

Deborah Frances-White said:
The Fringe is an adventure playground of ideas, a marvellous meshing of minds and the largest, most animated anthology of the human spirit and self-expression in the world. I look forward to giving the Fringe Central Welcome Address the same way an athlete would look forward to opening the Olympic Games - only with more jokes.

Shona McCarthy, Chief Executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, said:
“I am delighted that Deborah is delivering the Fringe Central Welcome Address this year. This address is always one of the must-see events in the Fringe Central Events Programme, and I’m sure artists will be inspired by Deborah’s experience as a performer, writer, and broadcaster. I look forward to hearing her hilarious and thought-provoking observations on the Fringe and her career.

“This year we are celebrating the 10th anniversary of Fringe Central, working in partnership with 65 fantastic organisations to deliver our largest ever programme, with 125 free events taking place throughout the Fringe. These include networking events, panel discussions, and debates on a range of issues including female representation, access and equality, and health and wellbeing.

“To mark Scotland’s Year of Young People, we have worked with a panel of three young people from across the country to develop the 2018 Fringe Central Events Programme. Their contribution has been invaluable, providing feedback on every event submitted for consideration, suggesting new collaborations, and giving our team lots to think about. I hope that the energy and enthusiasm they provided shines through in the wonderful variety of events on offer this year.”

Fringe Central is located at Appleton Tower and will be open from 30 July to 27 August. Some of the highlights from this year’s Fringe Central Events Programme include:

  • A free creche facility that will run alongside Parenting in the Performing Arts: Coffee Morning (07, 17, 23 August between 10.00am and 2.00pm), delivered by the Fringe Society in partnership with the Federation of Scottish Theatre, Stellar Quines and National Theatre Scotland.
  • Equity, Independent Theatre Council and UK Theatre will participate in Dignity in the Workplace - Changing the Culture (21 August, 12 noon), a discussion about the arts industry’s response to bullying and harassment. What is being done and what policies are being developed in the workplace to ensure we are creating and working in safe and supportive environments?
  • Dragging You into the Mainstream (9 August, 2.30pm) Civil Disobedience explore how the drag scene is increasingly informing cultural discussions surrounding social issues including gender, race and sexual orientation, with a panel discussion and a provocation from Australian drag performer and Celebrity Big Brother 2017 winner, Courtney Act.
  • The State of Arts Criticism (15 August, 11.30am) will reflect on how criticism at the Fringe has changed in recent years. Is a review from a critic with decades of experience worth more than one from a student journalist? And when anyone can write their own review on social media, do reviews from publications really matter anymore?
  • NHS Lothian will host A Mentally Well Fringe (10, 17, 24 August, various times) offering Fringe participants the opportunity to sample some experiences commonly used in psychological therapy practice, which are known to help mental wellbeing.
  • Scottish Drama Training Network will deliver a series of events aimed at providing information on the learning and career pathways available to young people in the arts.