What is the Keep It Fringe fund? 

The Keep it Fringe fund is an initiative we started in 2023 to support Fringe artists, led by Fringe Society President Phoebe Waller-Bridge. 

In its first year, the fund distributed bursaries of £2,000 to 50 artists and companies who were bringing work to the Fringe in 2023. It was supported with £50,000 from Phoebe’s Fleabag for Charity fund, with the other £50,000 made up of donations to the Fringe Society through individual donors and our partnership with Edinburgh Gin. Artists had free rein to use the funds in whichever way best helped them bring their work to the Fringe. 

The 50 successful recipients represented the great breadth of variety and diversity that makes up the Fringe, with work covering a range of topics and disciplines. Nearly half the successful applicants were disabled or had a health condition, and one in three came from a working-class background.   

Find out more about how the Keep it Fringe fund was beneficial to artists in 2023: 

Elisabeth Gunawan, Unforgettable Girl (Pleasance) 

I'm a writer and performer. I mostly create my own work. With my artistic collective Saksi Bisou – that translates to ‘kiss witness’, it's a pun in Bahasa Indonesian-French – we create theatre to open up spaces of belonging for people who don't have that in real life. 

I first experienced the Fringe in 2022. I only came to the UK in 2020, so before that all I knew of Edinburgh Fringe was that people in my university who make theatre would dream of going to Edinburgh Fringe one day. I have to say it was a very magical time. Edinburgh just feels like a month-long fever dream-slash-party-slash-theatre camp. I don't know why I said that, I've never been to a theatre camp! 

The Keep it Fringe fund made the difference between me being able to pay people and not lose money. It was also the difference between suffering and making way too many sacrifices to go to the Fringe than not. 

I also made many new friendships through the Keep it Fringe fund, meeting other people who benefited from the same fund. And it kind of helped put us on the map. It was a really lovely recognition, especially as a new company, to be able to say, ‘I got the Keep it Fringe fund’. So I was really grateful for that. A lot of these awards and reviews, of course, are fleeting and it's not the be-all and end-all, but in our case, those awards and reviews really helped give us some credibility, especially as a new company. 

Roxane Cabassut, Hayfever (Space45)

Peyvand Sadeghian, DUAL دوگانه (Pleasance) 

I am a cross-disciplinary theatre maker and performer. My background's been mostly as an actor and then I was collaborating on lots of other people's work, but only ever credited as performer. In the past few years, I switched to also making work under my own name. And the culmination of that is a show called DUAL دوگانه, which I took to the Fringe last year. 

What my Keep it Fringe funding went towards, which I thought was money well spent, was getting decent PR – I worked with Sharon McHendry who was amazing. It meant that I could get what I needed... I came away from the festival with really good media coverage. I got my first self-penned article for a national publication, which reached a wide audience so that, when the show toured after the Fringe, there was an awareness of it. I also had an offer for a commission of a creative essay from an independent publisher called Tangerine Press

And it has led to other collaborations on other people's work. I think I'm still in the process of getting some of those career benefits from different directions in different ways, and I think it's very much kind of ‘playing the long game’ with it. It has allowed me to begin many conversations, and have an awareness of myself and my work, even if people haven't necessarily seen it. 

One of the key things I think about Keep it Fringe was the simplicity of the application and the time of the turnaround as well. And that honestly really made all the difference. 

Karen Reilly, Darkroom (Summerhall)

Alistair Hall, Declan (Underbelly) 

I’m an actor and playwright from Wiltshire, now based in London. I graduated from RADA in 2020 and have recently begun creating my own work.  

My debut solo show, Declan, received Keep it Fringe funding in 2023. Last year felt like the right time for me as an emerging artist to come to the Fringe, and it felt like the show would suit the Fringe audience. 

Receiving Keep it Fringe funding was a huge benefit and it made my debut at the Fringe possible. Not only was the financial aid vital but the support from the Fringe Society was really strong. There was also an interest in the show off the back of the award, which felt like the encouragement I needed as a Fringe first-timer. 

Rachel E Thorne, Sketch Up (Laughing Horse) 

Edinburgh Fringe is the best possible breeding ground for creatives. Where else do you get to spend a month honing your craft and meeting other brilliant performers? It’s essential to my career – I co-create award-winning improvised theatre, I write plays and I make sketch comedy. I’ve performed at the Fringe every year since 2014. Yep, including 2021! I had withdrawal symptoms. 

I brought Sketch Up, my smorgasbord of radio sketch comedy, to Edinburgh because I knew it would be perfect for Fringe audiences. Where else can you pack out a room at lunchtime with people laughing because Scrooge doesn’t want to traverse the cosmos with the Ghost of Christmas Present until he’s put some pants on? 

The support from Keep it Fringe enabled me to rent accommodation with space for my little girl to come and stay for a couple of days. We took her to the Zoo on our day off and had a blast. The performing arts are really tough for parents and people with caring responsibilities and funds like this just tip it into doable. 

The Keep it Fringe fund has been renewed for 2024 and 2025 – find out more.