The ‘Keep it Fringe’ fund will support artists bringing work to Fringe 2023.

UPDATE: This article has been updated to include links to the Keep it Fringe fund, which is now live, and to a recording of the info session.

We're delighted to announce the launch of the ‘Keep it Fringe’ fund, a new initiative to support Fringe artists, which is being led by Fringe Society President Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

This fund, supported by the Fleabag for Charity campaign and funds donated to the Fringe Society, will distribute 50 bursaries of £2,000 to individual artists or companies bringing work to the Fringe in 2023.

Applications for the fund are now closed.

Not every artist has the same start in their career, but we believe that shouldn’t prevent anyone having access to a stage to showcase their talent at the Fringe. There is no Fringe without artists, without risk-taking or experimentation. Rooted in our vision to give anyone a stage and everyone a seat, this fund sets out to protect artists’ prospects by removing some of the growing barriers to performing. 

Phoebe Waller-Bridge, honorary President of the Fringe Society, said: ‘For a creative, the festival is one of the most unique places on the planet to launch work, meet other artists and be discovered by audiences, agents, producers and the media. For me, today’s announcement is incredibly personal. Edinburgh Fringe gave Fleabag a game-changing platform for everyone involved and we are thrilled that the show can continue to pay it forward to the creatives of tomorrow and contribute to those who might not otherwise have the opportunity to take their work to this amazing festival.'

Shona McCarthy, Chief Executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, said: ‘We recognise how difficult the last few years have been for the cultural sector, and today’s announcement is a very direct way for us to give some support for artists performing at this year’s Fringe. We are massively grateful to Phoebe, and all our donors, for their generosity and ongoing support of the work of the Fringe Society. This fund is a first step in what we hope to be an ongoing opportunity for Fringe artists. We will be actively encouraging new donors and Fringe alumni to work with us through this simple initiative, to get support out quickly and effectively to give someone a stage.’

In June 2022 we launched the Fringe development goals, setting new commitments and targets for the festival. Ensuring we support thriving artists is key to this work, and today’s announcement will support Fringe artists who face the greatest barriers. As we work to build a better, more accessible and sustainable Fringe, the fund will be used to level the playing field for artists.  

This fund is a pilot as part of the Fringe Society’s wider fundraising campaign for the Fringe, and our ambition is to provide direct financial support for Fringe artists every year. We recognise that these funds won’t make or break a show but should provide a little financial help to those who want to take part in the Fringe. 

What is the fund?  

The total fund is £100,000, which will be distributed as 50 awards of £2,000. These funds are designed to help artists on their Fringe 2023 journey and can be spent on any costs associated with their show. The Fringe Society will award 100% of the funding up-front and there will be no end-of-grant reporting required.  

Alongside the fund, the Fringe Society is launching a pilot programme with Smarty Grants to help capture long-term insight into the career development of Fringe artists. There will also be an engagement programme for recipients of the award, comprising a range of opportunities to maximise the value of the funding; further details will be shared in the lead-up to August.

Who is the fund for?  

The fund is for individual artists and companies bringing work to the Fringe in 2023.  

Eligibility criteria:

  • Your show must be registered in the 2023 Fringe (registration will be confirmed before funds are paid, but does not have to be completed when you apply, and you can register anytime up to and during the Fringe).
  • You must be a UK-based performer, or applying on behalf of a UK-based performer.
  • You must be presenting live and in-person performance. 

How do artists apply for it?  

The Fringe Society anticipates there will be an excess demand for funding which will require assessments to be made. The application will ask the following questions: 

  • Tell us about your show and what stage you’re at in your plans for Fringe 2023. (200 words)  
  • What will you spend your £2,000 Fringe 2023 funding on? (200 words)  
  • Tell us what you hope to achieve in Fringe 2023 and your ambitions for your show. (200 words)  

The Fringe Society wants everyone to be able to apply and will be running online information sessions to support those who don’t have experience of applying for funding. The application itself will be kept as simple as possible and access support will be available where needed.  

Applications open at 12:00 GMT on Friday 10 March and close at 12:00 GMT on Friday 24 March. Award recipients will be notified around Friday 31 March 2023.

What are the assessment criteria? 

  • We want to hear about your show in your own words.
  • Applications should demonstrate how the show captures the defiant spirit of the Fringe, taking advantage of the Fringe as a unique platform to tell untold stories.
  • The fund aims to support professional performers / artists / creators or individuals with professional ambitions for their work who can demonstrate an existing level of planning for Fringe 2023.
  • Applicants should set out clear ambitions for the future life of the work being funded and / or their career.
  • While no budget is required and there are no ineligible costs, the details of the spend should be clear, specific and informed costs relating to bringing a show to the Fringe and the value added by the funding.
  • Funding will be prioritised to artists who don't have an existing high profile and artists who face barriers to funding / the arts more generally.

Applicants will be assessed by external specialists to identify those that demonstrate the greatest need and the boldest ideas. Should the assessment panel identify a greater number of applications deserving of funding above the 50 bursaries available, we reserve the right to apply a random selection method to the pool of those successful applications.

How can artists find out more?

The Fringe Society team will host an online webinar on Wednesday 08 March at 16:00 GMT, where artists will have the opportunity to find out more and ask questions. A recording of the webinar will be available to watch on Fringe Connect after the event. 

Watch a recording of the webinar

About the Fleabag for Charity Fund 

The Fleabag for Charity campaign was launched in 2020 during the pandemic by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, DryWrite, Soho Theatre and Annapurna Theatre in partnership with National Theatre Live and Amazon Prime Video. All funds were raised through streaming the NT Live production of Fleabag and donated to charities on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic and now beyond.

Thumbnail photo credit: Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World (2022), Pleasance. Photographer: David Monteith-Hodge.