Community engagement project Fringe Days Out relaunches for 2023
24 April 2023
Today we're pleased to announce the relaunch Fringe Days Out, our flagship community engagement project, ahead of Fringe 2023.
Generously supported by Baillie Gifford and by the PLACE programme (a partnership between the Scottish Government through Creative Scotland, the City of Edinburgh Council and the Edinburgh festivals), Fringe Days Out involves partnerships with 33 community groups, charities and organisations around Edinburgh, and provides Fringe vouchers, bus tickets and additional support to help marginalised communities engage with the festival.
Since starting as a pilot programme in 2017, more than 12,500 people have been given the opportunity to have a Fringe Day Out at one of the world's greatest celebrations of arts and culture – right on their doorstep.
Lyndsey Jackson, Deputy Chief Executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, said: ‘We’re delighted to see the return of Fringe Days Out this year as part of our vision to give anyone a stage and everyone a seat. The Fringe can be a force for good in and for the city of Edinburgh and its residents, and we believe that who you are and where you’re from should not present a barrier to attending or participating in this amazing festival. Fringe Days Out is proudly representative of both those goals, giving those who take part access to the full range of what the Fringe has to offer, and we’d like to thank all our community partners and generous supporters who have had a hand in making it happen again this year.’
City of Edinburgh Lord Provost Robert Aldridge said: ‘Fringe Days Out is a tremendous community project, reaching out a welcoming hand to include people and communities who would not otherwise have the opportunity to experience the festival – and this is a wonderful thing.
‘By working cooperatively, the Fringe Society is able to explore a range of additional ways to open doors, to lift curtains or to open spaces for our most vulnerable communities, improving options and opportunities for them to celebrate culture and creativity. I hope that through the project’s partners, many of Edinburgh’s families and our older and younger residents make full use of the Fringe Days Out initiative, and enjoy what I am sure will be another fantastic Edinburgh Fringe later in the year.’
Testimonials from some of our partner organisations
Sikh Sanjog provide support for women in the Sikh community who have been settling in Edinburgh since the 1950s:
‘As soon as the show finished the mums turned to me and said, “Sign us up for everything, we want to come to more shows.” They really enjoyed the experience and it opened their eyes to something new.’ (Sikh Sanjog community worker)
Re-engage provides vital, life-enhancing social connections for older people at a time in their lives when their social circles are diminishing:
‘I had a fantastic time. I love going to a Fringe show, but I find it more difficult to get out of the house now, and never go out alone in the evening. The singers were lovely and though I am in my 80s, I felt as though I was 18 again listening to them perform the music I love.’ (Jean, participant)
6VT Edinburgh City Youth Café offers services to support Edinburgh’s young people:
‘It is a gift with dignity.’ (Dot Horne, Chief Executive)
Fringe Days Out launched in 2017 as part of the Fringe Blueprint, a series of commitments published to mark the festival's 70th anniversary. We wanted to say thank you to the people of Edinburgh for hosting the Fringe, and to ensure that every single resident felt welcome at the festival; as such, they carried out research to discover which communities might have typically felt excluded from the festival.
Working from the results of this research, we made initial contact with 26 community organisations and charities to help better foster local connections; six years on, the programme has grown to include 33 community groups.
How does it work?
We provide partner organisations with free ticket vouchers for the Fringe and bus passes, so that cost is not a barrier to participation and engagement with the Fringe.
By providing people with ticket vouchers, Fringe Days Out empowers them to explore the full Fringe programme, inviting them to see any show at the Fringe.
Some Fringe Days Out participants are often unfamiliar with the city centre; this programme gives them the support and opportunity to travel outside their immediate neighbourhood, developing their confidence and experience of the city, without the potential barrier of paying for transport. For groups that experience challenges around bus and tram access, the project also now includes some budget for taxis.
The community organisations that take part in Fringe Days Out are long-term partners of the Fringe Society, enabling the groups to take the time they need to build up knowledge, experience and confidence in the festival. Community members may go on an organised group trip one year, feel confident in attending alone the next, and end up organising group trips themselves by the third.
Purpose of Fringe Days Out
The aim of this project is simple: to ensure that everyone involved has a good day out at the Fringe. The success of the Fringe relies on Edinburgh and its residents, and we are committed to finding more ways for even more local people to engage with and enjoy the arts.
We believe that everyone should have the opportunity to express themselves through creativity and experience the thrill of live performance, and that the Fringe is an incredible opportunity to do this. No matter who you are or where you come from, everyone is welcome.
About Fringe Days Out partners
We work with a broad range of individuals and groups including young people, single parents, isolated elderly people, disabled people, ethnic minority communities, refugees and asylum seekers, LGBTQIA+ people and many more.
Partner organisations include Citadel Youth Centre, Vintage Vibes, Multi Cultural Family Base and Dads Rock.
The groups that take part in Fringe Days Out are trusted partners in their communities who have built long-lasting relationships with their members. These relationships are crucial to the success of Fringe Days Out: by having open conversations with people they know and trust, participants can feel encouraged to take more risks in whether they choose to go and what they choose to see.
These conversations also help us better understand what else they can do to open doors and enable communities to celebrate culture and creativity on their own terms.
Thumbnail photo credit: Callum Donald (2023). Photographer: Lesley Martin.