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Andrew O'Neill's Fringe Report

PostPosted: 01 Sep 2008, 20:02
by andrewoneill
I had an amazing time this year. It was easy to get people in, the venue staff (I was in the Nicol Edwards) were lovely and supportive and my audiences were almost all delightful.

I think the system worked. I've done a lot in the anarchist/DIY punk scene in the past and have seen a lot of these types of things in action. There are always problems and things that don't get done, but I think the Free Fringe works fantastically.

Not everyone seemed to be fully on board with the co-operative ethic, but I think people will learn. People were keen to help, but didn't necessarily know what to do. Maybe there are ways of getting all the acts in each venue together a little bit more - maybe a venue party at the beginning and end of the festival? Maybe each venue should have best-of shows so all the acts can see each other on a regular basis, maybe with each show hosting on a rotating basis?

Another idea that could work well is a regular Best Of The Free Fringe gig somewhere high-profile during the festival. This would help people promote their shows and a collection at the end could go towards the costs that PBH is currently meeting.

I also think a venue messageboard would be a good idea. A physical chalk or whiteboard so we can communicate with each other. I found that every day I went in the room was laid out differently, the replacement microphone I bought got broken, sometimes there was a cd player and sometimes there wasn't. None of these things were particularly problematic, but nobody seemed to know what was supposed to be there and what wasn't. A board upon which we can communicate about these sort of things would be great. (Provided, of course, it doesn't become a conduit for passive-aggression like in a student house...)

One nasty thing did happen. All my posters were pulled off the walls and the one outside was damaged. This seemed like a deliberate act by someone with an issue. I wasn't overly concerned though, because I was filling my room without having to flyer by this stage, but it was an odd, ugly part of my experience, entirely at odds with the spirit of the Free Fringe.

I think it's outrageous that PBH is coughing up so much money. We should organise more benefit-type gigs in the run-up to August. Between us we can easily raise the money needed to run the thing.

Another idea that could work well is a regular Best Of The Free Fringe gig somewhere high-profile during the festival. This would help people promote their shows and a collection at the end could go towards the costs that PBH is currently meeting. Further to this, Peter told me his own show was suffering from the fact that he wasn't able to flyer it enough. It would be great if we paid back the huge amount he puts in by offering to do a bit of flyering for him over the fringe next year.

Overall I think the thing worked great and is a huge force for good and I'm looking forward to doing it all again next year!

PostPosted: 01 Sep 2008, 22:04
by 99club
Those are some great ideas - I think other shows supporting pbhasc with more flyering is an excellent idea. So is some kind of white board (or corkboard or sheet of paper bluetacked up depending on the space available at each venue). I also think the idea of higher profile acts such as yourself, Robin Ince, Josie Long, Tom Bell etc etc doing occasional benefit gigs for the free fringe is a good one and could be a good compliment to the regular gigs being run at the Lamb.

More communication between people at the venues is also a good idea, though I think doing it through a best of venue show would be a mistake. In practice I think organising with short spots from everyone at the venue (or those defined for that day's show as "the best") would be a bit of a nightmare and might act in the opposite way to create tensions rather than solidify the group! A good way to get people communicating might simply be to schedule a weekly meeting (every sunday at 3pm or every monday at 5 or whatever) where people can get together and have a chat about how things are going and anything that needs to be fixed at the venue.

I also think it's very important to foster a group identity and give each other support across the whole Free Fringe as well as at individual venues, so a weekly meeting at the Canon's Gait like the one we had on the first weekend of the Fringe would be good. I think a regular meet was tried during 2007 which seemed like a good idea, but there was a minor timing issue in that it was scheduled during the morning which during Edinburgh is when alot of people are asleep! You could kill two birds with one stone by having a short general meeting, which then breaks up into individual venue meetings/drinks when it's done.

Meetings and communication

PostPosted: 02 Sep 2008, 14:39
by PBH
You're right about the meetings.

One of my plans was to have Thrusdays as get-together nights after midnight at Nicol Edwards (which is our latest-opening venue) so that people could exchange ideas and help each other. This never happened, because I was too busy and anyway nobody was reading my emails at that point.

I'm sticking to this idea for 2009 unless anybody has anything better.

PostPosted: 02 Sep 2008, 18:58
by joe taylor
I too was at the Nichol Edwards, and there was a great deal of vandalism done to the posters. It was a real shame, but sadly Dave (the main liason with us through the venue) said this was to be a bit expected as it's a bit of a punk club, and having been drunk in a fair few of those over the years i know the level of titting about that goes on.
Sadly, if it was deliberate, then that is very much uncalled for and, as you said, against the very nature of what we were trying to do.
I actually really like the idea of doing some kind of showcase at each venue, and maybe having one big night a week where different acts can go to plug their shows. I'm sure that if everyone got to at least send a representative for their shows to do a ten or five minute set then everyone would get publicised, and hopefully it would avoid the idea about being "the best".
More communication would have been nice, as there were acts on at our venue that i never got a chance to even talk to, but those whom i did i found friendly, helpful and a generally wicked bunch.
Joe.

PostPosted: 09 Sep 2008, 13:56
by 99club
A post-midnight meeting may have the opposite problem to the one faced by the early meet - alot of people too knacked and/or drunk to head along at the end of the day.

Would it be practical to have a meeting in the day-off slots of one of the shows at the central venues?

PostPosted: 11 Sep 2008, 03:23
by bobslayer
Andrew - I was in the Nichol Edwards late at night quite a lot as it was close to our hostel (hmmm I dont need an excuse- it was a boozer that was still open!) And I can concurr - I think it perfectly likely that high spirits from the locals was behind your posters being torn down...

All good suggestions here
I should write our report and then I can join in!

PostPosted: 11 Sep 2008, 04:09
by bobslayer
It seems from other reports that the main issues for discussion were the following - I have put in my own ideas or agreements with other people suggestions:-

- Money that Peter is putting up - I second any idea to help relieve the financial burdon from Peter.
I think there is a relatively easy and painless solution for this:
I heard a figure of £3000 mentioned - if every show budgeted the small sum of £25 and put that into the Free Fringe pot at the start of the festival then x120 shows we could cover that.
However if we all put in £50 as a cost then we would have a fighting fund to get the Free Fringe through the run...
This could be much less stressful for Peter and having a fighting fund could help out other issues...

- Equipment - Generally equipment was great - but there was a case of some days there was a CD player, some days not, some days a DI box etc I think this is maybe something that is just to be expected - but we didn't really know what to do when something came up.
We did a fill in gig in the Beehive one day and couldn't get the PA to work - we didn't knw who to ask or who to tell about this - which brings us onto:

- Communication - I agree that if perhaps we had a venue message board of some sort it would make it easier to know what is going on and reach a concensus on certain issues...

- PR - Whilst we should of course all do our own PR... and a great job is done to promote the Free Fringe generally we of course could improve this. I agree the idea of a free fringe PR coordinator would be good. Particularly to work onlne hard... again something that maybe a fighting fund could assist with.