Sent to all applicants, incl accepted offers, on 2nd March

Here will be posted copies of all emails sent to all applicants or all accepted shows. If you have missed one, check here.

Sent to all applicants, incl accepted offers, on 2nd March

Postby PBH » 02 Mar 2014, 18:29

Dear Free Fringers, actual and applying

I’m keeping you informed of the situation. You’re all in different situations, but it helps for everybody to know what’s going on. Some of you don’t have offers yet; some are considering your offers and some have accepted and are therefore committed to us.

Those without offers

A number of the first category, those without offers yet, have emailed asking the question ‘am I going to get an offer?’. This is not a question we can answer. What we can say is that we will be looking for new venues until everybody (who makes the artistic standard) has a slot or until it becomes obvious that we cannot find any more. We will not give up. When shows decline their offers, the slots are filled with the next show the Artistic Directors feel suitable. Whatever slots are available will get filled. We are still in negotiation with several potential venues. The time scale venue owners work to is not our time scale; they neither know nor care about programme deadlines and to them August is still very distant.

We have been in this situation before. It has looked as if we’d be turning shows away, but then venues have been found and we’ve been able to accommodate everybody. We can’t promise the same for 2014, but we do promise to try.

You can withdraw, but we will not cease trying on your behalf until you withdraw. And anybody who is in a position to help in the venue search should do so in collaboration with the search team. We won’t, however, consider venues that are outside the critical area or which we think won’t work for any other good reason.

Because of last year’s success, applications this year are massively up, and many other organisations have been trying to capture our venues, and some have been captured. We lost one venue because last year’s team did not do what they were supposed to; one show did not turn up at all, the venue captain refused to do the job and nobody alerted me to the problem during the Fringe. We lost that venue, and we need not have lost it; this must not happen again. Edinburgh does not have enough venues suitable for your wonderful show, but the point of the Fringe is you make the best of it, and work hard as a team to make your venue work.

Such is the demand for venues, we have taken on a number of spaces on Monday to Friday or Sunday to Thursday deals. We have said no to these deals in the past; we are now saying yes to them, so that more of you can have venues. It’s not perfect. It’s better than not having them. Your Artistic Director may approach you about deals like that.

We will continue to get what venues we can and to fill them as they become available.

If you’re withdrawing, we need to know, so that no effort is wasted on your show. Nothing is more annoying than to schedule somebody who no longer needs scheduling and can’t be bothered to tell us. I repeat: this is not a shop and you are not customers; the Artistic Directors and the Venue team aren’t working massively hard so you can treat them with contempt. You’re not doing us a favour by honouring us with your show. You’re applying to join a team. So please keep us informed and, if you’re negotiating with other people, tell us. We’re entitled to know.

Those considering offers

Now, those of you who have an offer and are considering: the quicker you make your mind up, the better. Technically offers are valid for two weeks; in practice we give you somewhat longer and chase up your reaction before deleting the show. As we get closer to Fringe Programme deadlines, it becomes more important to know who’s joining us and who isn’t.

Once you’ve accepted, that’s it. You can’t unilaterally withdraw. If your circumstances change, you can of course discuss the situation with your Artistic Director and see how problems can best be resolved. If that results in an agreed withdrawal, that’s fine, but a unilateral withdrawal isn’t.

I am frequently asked: what is the situation with Cowgatehead? Am I aware that the “freestival” breakaway claim to have this venue? Yes, I am aware. As far as we can tell, they haven’t; as far as we can tell, this is a false claim, like their previous claim to have the Tron Kirk. They have been active in trying to poach our venues, which I regard as incorrect conduct. Nothing will kill the movement for emancipation of performers more than competition and cannibalisation. Competition may (or may not) be efficient for profit-making organisations; it is not for non-profit organisations. We will waste no resources competing; our resources will be used as best we can for the benefit of performers.

Those who have accepted offers

For shows who have accepted and are therefore coming in August:

The first decision you have to make is whether to list your show in the big fat Fringe Programme. The cheap deadline is mid-March. We do not require you to be in that programme; the decision is yours. If you are in that programme, you have a better chance of being reviewed. Some people think you get a bigger audience from it; others think it has little effect on audience. We understand that the Edinburgh Comedy Awards now go straight to our programme to list eligible shows rather than only using the big fat Fringe Programme. But don’t base your strategy around winning an Edinburgh Comedy Award; it’ll drive you mad if you do.

The Fringe has a new system for submission of form data to the Fringe Programme, so I’m not familiar with it. I have asked for screenshots, but they have refused. It appears there is a guide on which you can download, at ... w_2014.pdf. Warning: we will not check your entry. If it’s wrong, you’ll have to live with the consequences, so please check carefully.

Under your group name in the programme, please put your name followed by /PBH’s Free Fringe, for example Vijay Patel/PBH’s Free Fringe. That’s the one that will appear in the printed programme.

Do not put any days off in the big fat Fringe Programme which you have not cleared with me. Days off have to be co-ordinated with other shows in your venue; you can’t just decide on one without checking its impact on other shows. If you disregard this you may have to perform on a day you wanted off.

If you have no picture to put in the big fat Fringe Programme, please put the Free Fringe logo instead. The Free Fringe logo must also go on all your fliers and posters in its original colours.


We will need lots of volunteers to do lots of things. We need advertising space selling in the Free Fringe Programme (the Wee Blue Book). We need benefit events organising. The more money we raise by ad sales and benefits, the less chance there is of having to ask for a voluntary contribution towards the printing of the Wee Blue Book. Everybody should try to raise at least £4 per performance in ad sales or benefits, and if everybody does, our costs are covered. The more we can borrow (especially PA systems) the less we have to buy. This week I have bought 160 folding chairs; a substantial sum, but an investment in our shows.

March meeting

We ought to have a meeting in London so that many of you can get to know each other and build the self-supporting team that makes the Free Fringe work. London because more of us are based near there than any other place. We need to find a venue, ideally for Sunday 16th March afternoon; that’s the first job for one volunteer. There are many more jobs for many more volunteers. Please keep that date free if you can and are in the vicinity; a further announcement will happen.


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