Compiling a realistic budget is an important early step when preparing to perform at the Fringe.
Projected expenses will vary greatly from company to company, depending on factors such as the size and genre of your show; whether yours is an amateur or professional production; and how far you’ll have to travel to get to the city. Preparing a budget also involves dealing with some unknowns. It’s difficult to predict ticket sales for instance, although it is likely that your expenses will be greater than your revenue.
However, there are many ways you can fund your Fringe show beyond ticket sales – we’ve listed some below.
Typical Fringe expenses include:
- Venue: Can include everything from hiring the space to staffing fees and equipment costs (anywhere from £0 – £10,000 per week).
- Fringe Society: Fringe registration fees, ticket commission, perhaps web advertising.
- Production costs: Equipment hire and transportation, public liability insurance, copyright and PRS / PPL payments.
- Accommodation: Rent and utilities.
- Travel: Getting to and from Edinburgh, travelling around the city.
- Press and marketing: Design costs, printing flyers and posters, CDs / DVDs, distribution charges, publicity photos, publicist charges.
- Administration: Office costs.
- Living costs: Edinburgh is an expensive city, so remember to allow for high food and drink costs during your stay.
- VAT: Check if service quotes include value added tax (VAT), which is 20%.
- Contingency: Adding 5 – 10% of your sum budget costs to the total will give you some room to breathe if the unexpected happens. It is a good idea to overestimate expenses and underestimate revenues when budgeting.
We’ve built a downloadable budgeting tool in Microsoft Excel to help you plan your finances and plot your Fringe budget.
Budget case studies
We’ve put together some case studies using budget information from past Fringe shows. This information should be used only as a guide but will be useful to give you a sense of the typical costs when putting on a show as part of the Fringe.
Each case study also contains a projected box office takings figure, based on 33% ticket sales – generally considered a successful run at the Fringe. There is no typical number of tickets that a company should expect to sell. As the case studies show, breaking even often means not relying on ticket sales but also on seeking additional support and funding.
Case study one: Theatre show in 100-capacity performance space
Case study two: Comedy show in a 90-capacity pub venue for one week run
Case study three: Theatre show in a 150-capacity space
Case study four: Children’s show in an 80-capacity space
Case study five: Comedy show in a 30-capacity venue
Case study six: Dance, physical theatre and circus show in a 60-capacity space
Ways to raise money
Many arts projects require subsidy, over and above what they generate in ticket income, for them to happen at all. Sourcing that subsidy is the biggest challenge facing any arts organisation or artist, emerging or established.
- You can request private donations from your friends and family or via crowdfunding.
- Approach business and organisations for sponsorship.
- Your council or local authority may offer grants for developing creative work.
- Arts councils also offer funding streams, though usually not for works presenting only at the Fringe.
- Many trusts and charities offer financial assistance to creative projects but expect them to meet specific criteria.
- Sell merchandise to supplement your box office takings once you’re at the Fringe.
The two most important things when trying to secure funding are to be realistic and be organised. Remember: selling approximately 33% of your tickets is considered a benchmark for success at the Fringe, so bear this in mind when thinking about or discussing your projected income with potential funders.
Businesses often support the arts for both philanthropic reasons and for the chance to associate their brand with exciting and creative projects. They may be able to offer cash donations or in-kind support, such as rehearsal space, props, etc.
Be imaginative and approach local companies in your area – they may not turn over as big a profit as some large multinationals, but they're more likely to see a benefit in contributing to a local project. For inspiration, visit the websites of other artists and companies in your field, and look for the names of their supporters (usually found on a ‘supporters’ page or in an annual review). You can also find a directory of companies that make philanthropic grants in the Guide to UK Company Giving by the Directory of Social Change, available from public libraries.
Before reaching out, consider your proposition from a prospective sponsor’s point of view: how does your work relate to their organisation? What would they gain from supporting you? Look at some high-profile sponsorships and consider what the sponsor gains from the association.
Businesses will often request their support be acknowledged in marketing materials or press releases. If you do get a sponsor on board for your Fringe project, make sure you check with your venue that it is ok to credit them and align them with your marketing campaign.
Advice on securing sponsorship
- Step 1. Do your research
Seek out businesses that would connect with your project. Maybe they’re local to you; maybe they’ve sponsored other arts organisations in the past; perhaps your work connects with their values, or you appeal to their core audience. Take the time to research and personalise your approach for each potential sponsor.
- Step 2. Make initial contact
Find out who in the organisation is the best person for you to reach out to. Make use of any potential contacts you have – your pitch is much more likely to succeed if you approach familiar leads.
Figure out whether it’s a formal proposal that should be put to them right away, whether a meeting or visit could be arranged first, and how you can bring more influence to bear on the decision-making process.
Also, should you be the person making the approach? Would it be better if it came from someone else? A colleague might have more established contact with the funders; a prestigious trustee or supporter may have more impact.
- Step 3. Write a clear and succinct application
Make a strong case for support and use simple language everyone will understand. Include a summary of your show, an outline of the benefits (specifically tailored to the sponsor), the support you are looking for and the timescale.
Think creatively – could you perform at your sponsor’s offices? Could you run a workshop for the staff’s children? This kind of involvement and engagement with company personnel is really popular and could build a unique package.
Try and include some strong supporting material. This is especially important if you are an emerging artist or organisation: the funder may not be aware of you, so you’ll need to try harder to demonstrate the quality of your work. This can be difficult if you don’t have a body of work behind you, but don’t underestimate the value of including references or support statements from more established contacts in your network.
- Step 4. Keep in touch
Maintain contact with those who are supporting you but also with those who are not (where you feel there are organisations or individuals that should be interested in your work).Report on your successes and continue to build your credibility with them.
Official arts funding
When someone talks about official arts funding, they’re often referring to subsidy from an arts council or government funding initiative. The application processes for such funds can be very laborious and complex, with lots of things to consider – before you start your application, you might want to think about some key points such as:
- Eligibility, eg do you have a written constitution, management structure (even if this is small, it still needs to be clear), dedicated banking arrangements, an accounts system?
- Organisation status, eg are you non-profit, charitable or commercial? If you’re commercial and applying for public sector money, you’ll need to prove that your project is not for profit.
- Management and delivery: you’ll need to include detail on the systems you’ll put in place to manage the money.
- Other sources of income: arts councils will not normally fund your entire project, and will often expect at least 10% of your overall project cost to come from elsewhere.
- Timescales: you’re unlikely to get funding for any projects that have already started, so make sure you plan ahead and factor in time (eg a few months) for the decision-making process. Important note: goods or services bought before a decision is made will not be paid for by a formal funder.
- Assessment criteria, eg: artistic quality, public benefit and demand, how well the project will be managed and delivered, financial strength and value for money.
- Supporting material such as videos, press material, script samples and reference letters.
- Proofreading: you should check your application over thoroughly, then ask someone outside the arts to do the same, ensuring your project comes across clearly.
- All funding bodies provide guidance notes and a help service – use them!
- Be resilient: if you’re a new artist, you’re unlikely to get funded on your first attempt. Make sure you ask for feedback, take it on board and keep trying.
Current funding opportunities
We will share details of funding opportunities here when available.
- New Conversations
New Conversations is a programme funded and delivered by the British Council, Farnham Maltings, and the High Commission of Canada in the UK . The fund is designed to encourage and support the development of creative exchange, collaboration and partnerships between artists and arts organisations in the performing arts sector in the UK and Canada.
Find out more at farnhammaltings.com
National agencies and cultural organisations
- Creative Scotland
- Arts Council England
- Big Lottery Fund
- Awards for All
- British Council
- Visiting Arts
- Cultural Enterprise Office
- Department for Culture/Media/Sport
- Funding Central
Trusts and foundations
- Arts Trust Scotland
- Dewar Arts Award
- The Elephant Trust
- The Esmee Fairbairn Foundation
- The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation
- The Prince’s Trust Scotland
- Wellcome Trust
- The Paul Hamlyn Foundation
- Crowdfunder (UK)
- Fund It (IRE)
- Kickstarter (USA)
- RocketHub (USA)
- We Fund (UK)
- Fringe Funder
- Pozible (AUS)