Edinburgh Festival Fringe goes online for 2020
Staff Reporter | On 14, Jul 2020Reading time: 5 mins
The 2020 Edinburgh Festival Fringe will be reimagined as a digital event this summer, after the event was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The world’s largest arts festival typically brings in several hundred thousand people to see a wide range of shows, not only stand-up comedy but also theatre, dance, music and circus arts. While there are no plans for live performances, following the latest Scottish government guidance, the Fringe Society has instead announced plans for a digital event that will include live-streamed performances, nostalgic throwbacks and community-focused events and support sessions. A series of digital activities, including virtual shows, a festival-wide crowdfunding campaign, artist-facing workshops, a new online arts industry platform and a virtual Fringe Central will all be launched.
Shona McCarthy, Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society Chief Executive, said: “It’s hard to imagine a summer without the Fringe. The explosion of creativity and community that the festival brings every year is unparalleled, and whilst we may not be able to provide a stage in Edinburgh in quite the same way this year, it feels hugely important that the spirit of this brilliant festival is kept alive.”
The plans were unveiled alongside the festival’s official artwork, designed by Butcher Billy. Read on for the digital line-up – or head this way for our guide to the best stand-up comedy to watch online in the UK.
FringeMakers Crowdfunding platform
The Fringe Society and Crowdfunder have teamed up to launch a new crowdfunding platform, FringeMakers, which will support Fringe artists and venues to raise vital funds in the absence of a Fringe this year. Participants can offer rewards for donation, such as access to their own live-streamed shows, custom merchandise, exclusive content and much more.
The FringeMakers platform is live now at welcome.crowdfunder.co.uk/fringemakers.
Fringe on a Friday: Variety Show
As part of the FringeMakers campaign, every registered venue and artist will have the opportunity to raise money for their project by selling tickets to a weekly live-streamed variety show – Fringe on a Friday.
Fringe on a Friday is a 60-minute Fringe variety show, produced and curated by an independent production company, which will be streamed every Friday evening during the Fringe (7th, 14th, 21st and 28th August). This will showcase the best of the festival across a range of genres, including comedy, music, dance and cabaret. Venues and acts will all be given the opportunity to sell tickets to the broadcast and will keep 100 per cent of the money they raise from these sales.
Fringe Pick n Mix
The Fringe – usually staged across a whole city – will instead be staged in living rooms across the world this August as we invite artists and audiences to capture the spirit of the Fringe in miniature. Repurposing technology from last year’s Inspiration Machine, artists can upload 60-second films of themselves in action – from snippets of what would have been 2020 shows to snappy set pieces staged in the shed. Anyone can take part.
Viewers can pick a particular clip to watch or settle in to watch a mixed stream of continuous Fringe entertainment, with the ability to interact and comment on the videos as they play out. Audiences can show their appreciation by donating to a central artist and venue survival fund and explore additional content via their social media channels.
Comedy Central at the Edinburgh Fringe
Comedy Central International, in association with the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, is spotlighting 10 rising comedians in a series of 7-minute stand-up episodes across Comedy Central International’s Facebook, YouTube and Instagram platforms, starting on 17th August.
Highlights from the digital episodes will air in a 22-minute TV special on Comedy Central UK on 28th August and also be made available internationally. The comedy special will feature live virtual audience reactions, with an inside look into audience households across the UK.
Virtual Fringe Central
Fringe Central is a home from home for the Fringe community during August and hosts a programme of creative and professional development events for artists. The online hub will allow artists to come together to connect and collaborate with each other, or simply drop by and talk to a member of the Fringe Society team in real time, replicating the open-door environment that is Fringe Central in August.
In partnership with industry experts, a series of over 30 digital events will be held – including panel discussions, workshops and networking sessions, exploring pertinent topics such as digital skills development and touring post-pandemic, and wider industry themes such as the under-representation of creators of colour and how to make performances more accessible. These are open and completely free to all artists.
In the absence of a physical festival, the virtual Fringe Marketplace will be a platform to connect arts industry delegates all over the world with tour-ready artists who were programmed as part of this year’s Fringe – helping them to network with producers, directors and buyers for TV and radio. A series of events for industry will also be streamed online, including morning sessions with international showcases from around the world.
Edinburgh Unlocked: Audiobook
An audiobook will be released by Penguin Random House showcasing a range of well-known Fringe comedians, including Ivo Graham, Lou Sanders, Sheeps and Dane Baptiste through to emerging talent such as Glamrou, Mo Omar, Chloe Petts and SHELF. Featuring stand-up, sketch, character, musical comedy, cabaret, storytelling and more, Edinburgh Unlocked is a celebration of the variety and creativity that is showcased across the Festival. Penguin Random House will donate a percentage royalty to help support the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society.
It will be released on 6th August.