Code of Conduct
The below code has been developed through joint discussions between the Association of Independent Venue Producers and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society. It is not binding, but is designed to be a statement of intent and commitment.
The aim of this code is to improve the Fringe experience for everyone. However, it is understood that companies do not always have sole control of their operations, and that their ability to fully implement this code may be hampered by external factors beyond their control. You can sign up to this code when you register your show.
Company relationship with the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society
- Ensure that the Fringe Society is given the opportunity to contact all company members directly so that the Society can share information and offer support to all participants in your company.
- Strive towards providing the highest level of accessibility in all their work. You can find information on how to make your show more accessible to audiences here.
- Encourage sustainable practices and seek to reduce the environmental impact of the festival. You can find more information on sustainability here.
- Seek to work with each other and the Fringe Society for the future development of the Fringe, including sharing the end of Fringe Participant Survey with all company members.
- In the event of a dispute with a performing company member or venue that cannot be resolved, seek to arrange mediation through the Fringe Society.
Company relationship with venue
- Provide venues with details and specifications of shows which are clear, detailed and up-to-date (as much is practicable), maintaining strong communication in the lead up to and throughout the Fringe.
- After an offer from a venue has been accepted by the company, immediately inform those other venues which the company applied to. If the company decides not to proceed with any of the venues applied to, immediately inform those venues.
- If operating within a paid deal or contract, make full payment of all applicable venue fees/guarantees by their agreed due dates.
- Provide artwork, print and all other publicity materials by their due date, within the guidelines of and to the standard required by, the venue.
- Exercise caution in publishing or broadcasting material which might be taken to be the viewpoint of the venue or associated parties either in person or online.
- Refrain from activities which might bring the venue and its associated performing companies into disrepute.
Company relationship with company members and third parties
- Issue company members and third parties with contracts written in plain language, clearly setting out financial obligations, services and duties to be provided, payment schedules and any applicable penalties. Make sample contracts available to prospective collaborators on request.
- Forward company members and third parties any monies owed to them, ideally within one month of receipt of settlement from the Fringe Society and/or venue, and certainly within two months (barring exceptional circumstances). Ensure these dates are clearly communicated to company members at least twice.
- Implement a policy to encourage the promotion of equal opportunities. Further information on creating an equal opportunities policy is available through the Equal Opportunities Commission.
- Keep company members informed and pass on any appropriate information provided by the venue and the Fringe Society to all relevant members.
- Ensure that company members conduct themselves in a professional manner. Rude, aggressive or threatening behaviour in all its forms is unacceptable; this includes discriminatory practices, sexual harassment and bullying. You can find an example code of behaviour here.
- Comply with applicable performing rights, licensing, equalities, employment, and health and safety legislation, and provide appropriate training (and safety equipment) to company members.
For more information on any of the points raised within this Code of Conduct, please contact the Participant Services team on [email protected]
Routes to mediation with the Fringe Society
The Fringe Society is an entirely impartial organisation and our role is to advise, guide and support all those taking part in the Fringe in as fair and equal a way as possible. Those taking part include, but are not limited to, performing companies, individual artists, venue operators, and media and arts industry professionals. We are here to help. In the first instance, we aim to prevent situations from escalating and prefer you come to us before things get worse, with the assurance that your concern will remain entirely confidential, via [email protected].
If you need to seek mediation with the Fringe Society, you should ensure your situation meets the criteria below, but always feel free to get in touch with us directly anyway. If your concern is of a sensitive nature, let us know and an individual on our team will get back to you for specific details.
We will be able to assist in mediation only if:
- Every party concerned is aware of the issue
- There has already been an attempt to resolve the issue and this has failed
- Every party is willing to accept an active role in mediation
- At least one party is a registered participant/venue or accredited member of the media/arts industry
* We are unable to intervene in a case where a review by a member of the press and media is in dispute.
** Audiences unhappy with the service at a venue should seek resolution directly with that venue.
The below protocol will set out a clear approach, working with the Fringe Society as a means of resolution between your party and another stakeholder in the Fringe, amidst which an irresolvable issue has arisen.
Step 1. Please get in touch with us to explain the situation.
Step 2. We will ask for details of the issue as you see them.
Step 3. The Fringe Society will contact all those parties involved to see if we can offer any help ahead of offering mediation.
If this is not satisfactory…
Step 4. We will present the issue to all parties at the same time in clear and simple terms.
Often at this point, after all concerns are set out, issues generally come to a positive conclusion for all. If this is not satisfactory…
Step 5. We will work with all parties to agree a time to meet if possible or use conference calling if distance is an issue.
Step 6. We will aim to have an honest, clear and factual discussion while sharing our collective ideas about how we can work toward a positive outcome for all.
Each situation is unique, so the above steps may need to change dependant on the circumstances.
Formal Complaint Procedure for Participants
If you’re a Fringe participant who’s had an issue with a registered venue or performing company and you’d like to make a formal complaint, the Fringe Society has a process in place to collect and record the appropriate details.
Resolving problems directly or working with us as a mediator should always be your first consideration when you’re having problems. Formal written complaints should only be submitted when there’s an issue which hasn’t been resolved to a satisfactory level, where an attempt at mediation or resolution has been unsuccessful or feels inappropriate for some reason.
The purpose of this procedure is not to encourage complaints but to formalise and structure the process of collecting information relating to the variety of issues some participants may face during their time at the Fringe. This helps ensure that problems can be dealt with in a consistent, effective and fair way, and in a larger sense can help make the Fringe better for all participants in the future. We’ll inform you if your complaint deals with an issue that sits beyond our remit – for any instances where you feel the law has been broken, you should always go directly to the relevant authority.
We encourage best practice through our Fringe Society codes of conduct.
The Fringe Society’s mediation policy addresses disagreements that have arisen during the Fringe. Mediation may not be appropriate in all instances but you should definitely consider it before starting a formal complaint.
When a formal written complaint is made this means:
- the complaint is held on record by the Fringe Society
- all complaints are accessible by the Fringe Society’s Senior Management Team
- if requested, the complaint will be communicated to the venue/company to which it concerns
- where numerous complaints have been made concerning one venue/company, these will be gathered, and any pattern of misconduct recorded
- where a pattern of misconduct or a particularly serious instance has been identified, complaints may be brought to the attention of the Fringe Board
- no legal advice will be provided by Fringe Society relating to any formal complaint
- further action beyond the logging of the complaint is taken only at the discretion of the Fringe Society.
Submitting a formal complaint
To submit a formal complaint please email [email protected]. Complaints are submitted through a form which will be sent to you. Various information is collected in the form – please be careful to give as full and honest an account of the issues you’ve faced as possible. When a complaint consists of numerous incidents/issues, please include a dated bullet point list of each individual instance.
If you are performing or adapting a work that is under copyright, you must get permission in writing from the author or their literary agent or publisher.
Even if you have already gained permission to perform your production elsewhere, you’ll need to ask for permission again to perform it at the Fringe.
Typically, a work remains under copyright for the length of its author’s life plus 70 years, though there are numerous exceptions to the rule.
It’s your responsibility to find out your obligations under the law and, if necessary, to pay the appropriate copyright fees. These are usually calculated as a percentage of box office revenue and are sometimes subject to a minimum required payment. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is a high-profile event, so publishers and literary agents make sure the correct fees have been paid on all works being performed.
- What to do
You can usually find the contact details for an author’s literary agent or publisher on the inside cover or early pages of the script. All communications should be in writing and you may be required to pay a deposit (treated as an advance against royalties) once a fee is agreed.
In all the preparations for the festival, it can be easy to overlook arranging insurance. Gather some quotes for the following types of insurance to protect against the worst. The main types of cover to consider are Public Liability insurance and Employers’ Liability insurance.
Public Liability Insurance
Cover in the event that you accidentally injure a member of the public or damage their property during your Fringe performance and promotional activities (for example, if a piece of your set falls on the audience).
While your venue will already have their own arrangements, their insurance will only cover the venue’s activities and structures and not what happens during your performance. You will be responsible for your own insurance and some venues will insist on seeing proof of adequate cover before they allow you to perform in their space to the public.
While you are not legally required to obtain public liability insurance, the Fringe Society does strongly recommend that you do, for peace of mind in case something goes wrong.
- Make sure that any existing insurance you have will cover you in Edinburgh OR
- If you buy insurance from a UK broker, make sure they can cover international performers and companies.
Employers’ Liability Insurance
Cover in the event that someone who works for you claims damages for accidental injury or damage to their property. Anyone who is working under your instruction can be classified as an employee, even if you are not paying them.
Employer’s Liability is sometimes offered as part of a package along with Public Liability - consider what cover will suit your particular circumstances.
Other types of insurance
Insurance for other situations is available, including:
- Show/performance cancellation.
- Loss/damage to property.
- If you are based outside the UK, remember to check you have valid cover for being away from your home country.
Speak to different insurance companies for advice on what is most appropriate and affordable.
How to obtain insurance
Check that you don't have cover already.
- If you are a member of Equity, BECTU or another union organisation, you may have sufficient personal cover through that organisation.
- If you are part of a larger institution such as a school, university, charity or production company, you may be covered by their insurance provisions
- If you already have insurance of any kind for your business, check if they can cover your Fringe activities as well.
Always check and request written confirmation of cover from your current provider.
Independent insurance providers
The insurance companies listed here are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and offer bespoke packages for Fringe participants.
- Encore Insure
"An online theatre insurance facility offering specialist discount to those performing at Edinburgh - We take the hassle out of insurance and provide a competitively priced quote in minutes. You provide the show – we provide the cover."
For more information on Fringe rates go to Encore Insure website
- Insuranace4PerformingArts – Rees Astley
"Festival insurance exclusively for Fringe participants starting from £80. We guarantee to beat any like for like quotation. Comprehensive packages can be purchased online or over the telephone."
For more information on Fringe rates go to Insurane4performingarts website
"Performers Insurance have offered bespoke Festival Fringe Packages to UK and Oversea’s participants since 1998. Premiums start at £75, please visit our website for full details and packages."
For more information on Fringe rate go to Performers website
The Fringe Society is not able to act on your behalf and does not have any jurisdiction over your arrangements. The Fringe Society has not received any payment for listings on this page but if a company chooses to advertise with us elsewhere, they will have paid at the usual rates. The Fringe Society is an impartial organisation and so does not recommend one company over another.
Insurance cover needs to be arranged directly between the provider and the company or performer involved.
Exceptional performance requirements
Venue licensing terms can be limited - if your show includes any special requirements (e.g. pyrotechnics, firearms and late performance times), check these with the venue manager and ensure the Council is notified, in case an inspection is required.
- Smoking is not permitted in public indoor spaces in Scotland, including on stage or in green rooms.
- Under Scottish law this prohibition extends to herbal cigarettes.
- There is no exemption for artistic purposes.
Failure to comply will usually result in a substantial fine for the smoker and the venue.
Working with children
- Where children are engaged to work in a theatrical production, the performing company is required to apply for a licence from the local authority where the child is undergoing his/her education.
- Adult company members can be vetted through Disclosure Scotland, the Protecting Vulnerable Groups Scheme or the Disclosure and Barring Service to ensure their suitability for working with minors.
See the Useful Numbers and Websites in the Appendix of the Fringe Handbook to Doing a Show for further contact details.
Working with animals
If your show includes animals:
- Inform the City of Edinburgh Council when your venue applies for its entertainment licence.
- Adhere to the guidelines of the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals throughout the production.