Keep it Fringe fund: 50 awards announced
03 April 2023
We’re delighted to announce the recipients of the £100,000 Keep it Fringe fund, a new initiative to support Fringe artists, led by Fringe Society President Phoebe Waller-Bridge.
The fund is distributing bursaries of £2,000 to 50 artists and companies bringing work to the Fringe in 2023, and is supported by the Fleabag for Charity fund and donations to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society through individual donors and our partnership with Edinburgh Gin. The intention behind the fund is to level the playing field for artists, providing the opportunity to reap the rewards of all the Fringe has to offer.
Representing the variety and diversity of the Fringe
677 artists and companies applied to the fund, and submissions were assessed by a diverse group of external assessors. Each application was reviewed by two assessors, who were on the lookout for shows that capture the defiant spirit of the Fringe and can take advantage of the festival as a unique platform to tell untold stories at all stages of their career.
The 50 successful recipients represent the great breadth of variety and diversity that makes up the Fringe. Their work covers a range of subjects, from climate action and OCD to parenthood and migration; from love to death to the realities of rural life. There's sketch comedy, musicals, stand-up, spoken word for children, plays, ventriloquist horror, immersive theatre for one audience-member at a time, drag, performance art, variety, solo work and pole dancing. These artists and companies will share 50 stories which talk to the very essence and spirit of the Fringe. We’ll be sharing more information on this eclectic range of shows in the weeks to come.
From emerging artists and those presenting at the Fringe for the first time to more established acts returning to the festival, the award recipients reflect performers at every stage of their career. It was clear to the assessors that there were a diverse range of applicants from a wide variety of backgrounds looking for support to bring their work to Fringe 2023: nearly half the successful applicants are disabled or have a health condition, and one in three come from a working-class background.
There are no restrictions on how applicants choose to spend their funding; some expenditures mentioned during the application process include childcare, transportation, media and PR support, help to meet Living Wage pay, access costs for artists and production costs associated with performing. The successful recipients will present work across a range of spaces in Edinburgh and will offer a mix of paid-for and free shows.
In addition to the £2,000 financial grant support, the 50 Keep it Fringe recipients will receive a package of support to help them perform at this year’s festival. The leading destination for short-form video, TikTok, will continue their support of Fringe artists and are kindly donating £50,000 worth of advertising credits to the Keep it Fringe fund recipients. These credits can be used by artists to boost their TikTok account content and raise their profile in-app in the run up to, and during the Fringe.
Also, and in line with the Fringe’s climate action development goals, electric rail provider sustainable rail network Lumo are generously donating 50 return tickets from any of their UK hubs, for travel to and from Edinburgh, for recipients of the fund.
Shona McCarthy, Chief Executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, said: ‘The number of applications received for the Keep it Fringe fund reflects the current economic climate, and a need for significant support for artists coming to the Fringe. The festival continues to be one of the most important cultural events in the world, and a platform for artists to gather, network and meet with industry partners as they explore future career possibilities. Our team continues to advocate for those across the Fringe ecology, and as we move at speed to this year’s Fringe, we encourage individuals and companies to reach out to our Artist Services team to see how we can provide further support.
‘We are immensely grateful for Phoebe’s generous donation to this new fund, and would welcome conversations with partners, donors and organisations who would be open to supporting the development of this important initiative in the future. Our thanks to all the assessors who took the time to review hundreds of applications, and to TikTok and Lumo for their kind support package for the recipients.’
Continuing the fund
The Keep it Fringe fund is a pilot, and part of the Fringe Society’s wider fundraising campaign. The ambition is to provide direct financial support for Fringe artists every year, with widening eligibility where possible. The Fringe Society recognises that these funds won’t make or break a show but should provide a little bit of financial help to those who want to take part in the Fringe.
If you or your organisation can help contribute to the Keep it Fringe, or widen its reach, please contact [email protected].
Full detail on the artists, companies, venues, and the shows themselves will be shared in the coming weeks as some shows are not yet registered.
- Abby Vicky-Russell
- Alex Gibbon
- Alistair Hall
- BBD Productions
- Ben Macpherson
- Ben Target
- Best in Class CIC
- Brigitte Aphrodite
- Bristol Performance Movement
- c21 Theatre Company Limited
- Cerys Bradley
- Clementine Bogg-Hargroves
- Down the Lens
- Edith Alibec
- Elisabeth Gunawan / Saksi Bisou
- Ella Lovelady
- Emerge Production House
- Fiona Ridgewell
- Flat &the Curves
- Gara in association with Jess Donn
- Hey Thanks! Theatre Company
- Jaimee Aislyn de Witt
- Joe Leather
- Journey to the East Productions
- Lachlan Werner
- Lee Kyle
- MarianaMalena Theatre Company
- Martin Mor Comedy
- Matt Hutchinson
- Max Percy + Friends
- Moon Loaf
- Mr Brake Down
- Mwansa Phiri/Visual Sauce
- Olly Gully
- Peyvand Sadeghian
- Prentice Productions with Kit Sinclair
- Rachel E. Thorn
- Ready Cett Productions
- Riss Obolensky and Eloise Poulton
- RoguePlay Theatre
- Sian Davies
- Simona Vrabcova
- Slade Wolfe Enterprises Limited
- Social Convention
- Stephen John Catling
- Suhaila Suhaimi
- The Thelmas WMC
- Tom Mayhew
Twenty-three assessors supported the Fringe Society in reviewing the applications received. Each application was reviewed by two accessors and scored against the published assessment criteria. We would like to thank the following for their support in the fast turnaround of these awards.
- A representative from EventScotland (anon)
- Anthony Butler
- Apphia Campbell
Playwright and performer; elected member of the Fringe Society board
- Ben Humphrey
Artistic Director / Producer
- Callum Madge
Engagement Manager, Birds of Paradise
- Neil Weir
Chair of Grid Iron Theatre Company and a judge for the Scottish Theatre Awards on the Fringe; elected member of the Fringe Society board
- Chris Cooke
Co-Editor, Three Weeks Edinburgh
- Ellen Tupman
- Freelance comedy producer (anon)
- Geoff Rowe
Founder, Leicester Comedy Festival
- Juliet Tweedie
Philanthropy Manager, Baillie Gifford
- Kate Copstick
Comedy Critic, The Scotsman
- Kathryn Pierce
Founder / Director of Somewhere EDI CIC
- Matt Panesh
Morecambe Fringe Director; elected member of the Fringe Society board
- Murray Robertson
- Pax Lowey
Festival Director and freelance Producer / Programmer; elected member of the Fringe Society board
- Pip Utton
Actor; elected member of the Fringe Society board
- Rachel Sanger
Programme Director, National Theatre of Scotland
- Rebecca Monks
Marketing Director, Bluecoat Liverpool
- Sarah Verghese
- Sunniva Ramsey
Programme Manager: International & Creative Sector Connections, Festivals Edinburgh
- Susan Morrison
Writer and Comedian
- Tracy Gentles
Creative Director / CEO at Something To Aim For
Eligibility criteria for applicants
You 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)
- a UK-based performer, or applying on behalf of a UK-based performer
- presenting live and in-person performance.
- Tell us about your show and what stage you’re at in your plans for Fringe 2023. (200 words max)
- What will you spend your £2,000 Fringe 2023 fund on? (200 words max)
- Tell us what you hope to achieve in Fringe 2023 and your ambitions for your show. (200 words max)
- 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.
- Applications should set out clear ambitions for the future life of the piece of 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 your show 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.
Each application was scored by two assessors; each assessor could award a score from 0 (ineligible) to 6 (meets all the assessment criteria). Funds were awarded to the 50 highest-scoring applicants.
|Number of applications||677|
|Number of awards||50|
|% of applications awarded funding||7.4%|
Applications by genre
|Cabaret and variety||3.3%||8%|
|Dance and physical theatre||5.5%||4%|
|Musicals and opera||5.5%||2%|
We asked the following questions to all applicants; responses were optional, with most open-text fields to allow people to self-describe. Where applications were made on behalf of a company, we asked the person completing the form to share their individual demographic data.
62 gender identities were self-described – we have collated these into the three categories below:
|Female / she||49%||46%|
|Male / he||37%||28%|
|25 and under||23%||12%|
|26 to 40||51%||68%|
|41 to 55||14%||12%|
Disability / health condition
Do you consider yourself to have a disability or health condition?
|Prefer not to say / not answered||13%||8%|
We had 70 sexual orientations self-described – we have collated these into the categories below:
|Prefer not to say / not answered||17%||10%|
179 different ethnic groups were self-defined across all applicants; noted below are the ethnic groups identified by the award recipients only.
|British / Canadian||2%|
We used three questions provided by the Social Mobility Commission https://socialmobilityworks.org/toolkit/measurement/ to capture data on the socio-economic status of applicants.
What was the occupation of your main household earner when you were about aged 14?
|Not known / other||22%||18%|
Which type of school did you attend for the most time between the ages of 11 and 16?
|A state-run or state-funded school||66%||68%|
|Attended school outside the UK||11%||6%|
|I don't know||1%||2%|
|Independent or fee-paying school||7%||4%|
|Independent or fee-paying school, where I received a means-tested bursary covering 90% or more of the total cost of attending throughout my time there||5%||6%|
|Prefer not to say / not known||11%||14%|
If you finished school after 1980, were you eligible for free school meals at any point during your school years?
|I don’t know||15%||16%|
|Not applicable / prefer not to say / not known||24%||20%|
Thumbnail photo credit: BOGEYMAN (2022), Pleasance. Photographer: David Monteith-Hodge.