The Fringe is an intense place, with lots going on all the time.
You might be here for the first time or the 75th time. You might be working on one, two or three shows at once, perhaps in multiple roles, maybe without much help or support.
Whatever your level of involvement with the Fringe, it’s important to remember: be kind to yourself. Everyone is busy and keen to make the most of their Fringe experience, but an important part of this is looking after your own health and wellbeing.
To help, we’ve put together a few tips and resources that can be useful when you’re feeling stressed or fatigued. Some might seem a little simple, but it’s easy to forget some of the basic things in August, so a little reminder can be helpful.
We hope you’ll find this guidance useful, but please do reach out to us in the Artist Services team on [email protected] if we can offer more specific support.
While covid-19 has waned over the last year, it remains part of our lives and we encourage all Fringe attendees – artists and audiences – to remain vigilant and stay safe while enjoying the festival. The Fringe is a huge gathering of people in lots of small spaces, so we still need to be mindful of the risks and mindful of different people's approaches, comfort zones and health.
Venues and backstage
Most companies share backstage areas as well as performance spaces, so speak to your venue and to other companies using the spaces you use: what are the specific covid protocols for that venue? Ask about the other companies you are working with and work out what you are all comfortable with. Check if there is any insurance aspect for you or the other shows that will impact things such as testing requirements for any insurance payout?
Times have changed, and while flyering remains synonymous with Fringe show marketing, not everyone will be as comfortable with it. Surveys have shown that flyering has previously been an issue with Edinburgh residents; this will likely be even more so with the way covid has changed things. Look at alternatives, such as QR codes audience members can scan instead of taking a flyer. If you have your heart set on flyering, consider how to do that safely.
You should think about what happens if you or a member of your company tests positive – what happens then? Be ready for every eventuality and again be aware what protocols are in place at your venue.
Establish what essential components are required to make your show work – if your company has multiple members, is there a contingency plan for if certain personnel are unavailable through illness?
Be sure to make yourself aware of the process of cancelling a performance with your venue should it be required – what notice is required and what happens in terms of ticketing? In that eventuality you will also need to inform the Fringe Box Office know – email the Fringe Box Office Supervisors on [email protected] with the details and we will make the changes on our system. Please note that all changes must be submitted by email, by the primary contact on the show registration form, to ensure they are properly recorded and entered on the box office system accordingly.
The Fringe can be overwhelming. You'll be out and about, at rehearsals, performances, marketing, networking, socialising and so on. But your top priority should be your health. Don't do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. Be open with your colleagues, and let your company as a whole feed into the approach you set.
The Scottish Government is running a distance aware lanyard initiative to support individuals who would like extra care to be taken around them when mixing with others. You can find out more about that, along with other available resources, below.
- UK Government guidance
- Scottish Government guidance
- Distance aware scheme
- General advice for Fringe visitors
- Order lateral flow tests
Practical health and wellbeing tips
- Get some sleep. We know it might feel like you’re only here for a short time and so you have to make the most of every single minute, but that works both ways – there’s so much going on all month, there’ll still be plenty to see and do if you take a night off.
- Make sure you eat something healthy once in a while! It’s really easy to end up missing meals or only eating junk food during Fringe, especially if you’re out all day or sharing a kitchen with lots of other people. But simple as it might sound, eating three full meals a day is a great way to look after your wellbeing. You might also want to check out Fringe Connect for a list of discounts offered on food options exclusively for Fringe artists.
- Prioritise your mental health, and remember that it’s just as important as your physical health. If you’re part of a show, and have concerns about budgets, ticket sales or anything else, remember the Artist Support team is on hand to take a breath with you, give support, advise and help guide your next moves. Our team members have mental health first aid training and can direct you to specialist organisations or resources if you find yourself overwhelmed. If you are working at the Fringe, be honest with your employer if you are worried about yourself and feel that you need to take a day off.
- Take a break from the Fringe. This might sound strange coming from the Fringe Society, but when you are able and have the time, try to take a real break. It’s fun to see shows and go out, but try to take at least a couple of real days off where you properly disconnect from the festival. Stay in bed all day, get out of central Edinburgh, read in the park; do whatever you need to do to put the festival on standby for a bit.
- At some point you might find that you just need to find a quiet place to gather yourself, take a breath and hide away from the crowds for a while. We know the feeling – we’ve been doing this for a while! – which is why a few members of the Fringe Society team have compiled a little list of locations that are great for switching off and finding a little peace:
- Manage your expectations – as part of your Fringe preparations, set some reasonable goals so as not to stretch yourself too far. Success can mean many things at the Fringe beyond ticket sales. Our team is on hand to help you work out what success might mean for you, which might include making industry connections or getting the right media coverage. Failing to sell out every night is not failure!
- If you’re working a job alongside your Fringe performances, it’s especially important that you take the time to recharge when you can; performing and working can each be tiring enough on their own, let alone at the same time! All of the above guidance applies just as much to venue staff as it does to performers, so please remember to look after yourself, and give us a shout if you need anything – we’re here to help if you want to talk or get advice, so don’t hesitate to get in touch. We also have guidance on what to expect from working at a venue and how to access support if you need it. If something is wrong, tell us by email or anonymously through the page above.
- Accessibility for artists – if you have access requirements, get in touch with [email protected] and we’ll see what we can do to help.
- Fringe flu is a variation on the well-known phenomenon of "fresher’s flu" – the idea that, if you’re suddenly thrust into close proximity with a lot of unfamiliar people, you’ll probably be exposed to some unfamiliar germs and could end up getting ill as a result. If the past few years have taught us anything, it’s to be extra careful with our health and hygiene, so please don’t perform if you are ill.
Useful links and resources
We've put together a list of resources that you'll hopefully find useful – they'll point you in the right direction if you're looking for help with:
- your physical health
- your mental health
- recreational tips
- general support or representation.