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Mostly reactions to an email from several performers asking for fundamental changes

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Postby PBH » 29 Oct 2013, 23:19

Re: Free Fringe Ethos and Conditions 2013
Postby Catherine Roberts » 05 Jun 2013 10:23 am

I accept the terms and conditions of the Free Fringe and would like to enter a group of 8 female performers with their devised drama 'Original Sin' for a part run from the 19th August until the 25th august. We don't arrive until mid afternoon on the Monday 19th.

The performers are between the ages of 18 and 21. A technician and teachers will be accompanying them and we will be happy to help at the assigned venue and offer and share our equipment.

The show is 50 minutes long and does not require fancy equipment or sound. It is a drama set in a women's prison in the UK with strong language and some adult themes. we are uploading the devised piece to Youtube as you mentioned that the dropbox link was difficult to open. It should be ready by the 6th June...tomorrow.

Regards,

Cath Roberts
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Re: Free Fringe Ethos and Conditions 2013
Postby Catherine Roberts » 06 Jun 2013 09:13 am

Hello again,
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=difHQh73uoM is the link to Original Sin on YouTube. many thanks.

Cath Roberts
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Re: Free Fringe Ethos and Conditions 2013
Postby graham alexander » 27 Sep 2013 10:35 am

Hi, I can't find away submit a show report on here .. I am in bed with bug, but ...
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Re: Free Fringe Ethos and Conditions 2013
Postby danny.worthington » 29 Sep 2013 08:59 am

viewforum.php?f=165
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Re: Free Fringe Ethos and Conditions 2013
Postby TheManinTheBowlerHat » 17 Oct 2013 07:52 am

I have just received an email suggesting that Peter has received an ultimatum from some of the acts on the Free Fringe, he's asked that I don't respond to him directly but to put my thoughts on here:

There are many things to think about but I would like to say that I do not consider the document that I read to be an ultimatum of any kind.

I want a little more time to digest the content, but I think there are some valid points that the authors have made. Knowing the acts that have put their name to the document I can say that I believe that every one of them has the best interests of the PBH Free Fringe at heart.


Nigel Lovell
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Re: Free Fringe Ethos and Conditions 2013
Postby F Mary Callan » 17 Oct 2013 09:15 am

It is important that people can make suggestions, which shows their commitment. There is a lot of wisdom in the document, but a face-to-face discussion would be more positive, and give the chance to dig deeper, and realise what experiences/hopes are behind each suggestion, and what pbh's experiences have been which underpin his decisions. I hope no-one will burn any bridges, and everything can go forward in a positive spirit.
On the 'quality' issue, a few acts are totally boring. - But everyone needs to learn somewhere. Some audiences prefer rubbish. I hope there will continue to be a free fringe, free, sharing talents, all-embracing. Creative people are great, but none of them are good at committees. Their thrust and individualism is what gets them to their goal.
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Re: Free Fringe Ethos and Conditions 2013
Postby MrSeanBrightman » 17 Oct 2013 09:49 am

Hello. I think we should look at starting a new thread and fresh, open discussion of the issues raised in our letter and Peter's response now it has been pushed out into the public domain.

Just speaking for myself, I have worked incredibly hard for the Free Fringe over the last nearly five years (even in 2012 when I didn't even take a show up to Edinburgh due to getting married!), designing the brochure and helping to lead the creative direction. This I have always done for FREE, in the spirit of and to support the free fringe. Ever since I started this journey, Peter has said contingencies need to be put in place for when he is no longer capable of running the free fringe and a few years ago, there was a committee in place, which actually held meetings about this. As far as I am aware, no action has ever been taken and more has fallen on Peter's shoulders each year. Also, for the last few years I have maintained my position that more help is required in areas, such as design and artwork, yet every year little or nothing gets done and in fact many workloads, including Margaret McKay's (who also works tirelessly on design) and my own, have increased to now breaking point.

Many of us have tried to approach Peter individually in the recent past about these and other issues, but there has been little or no response, so when carefully deliberating the right approach, after, we decided that a letter would be best, as calling a face-to-face meeting without having the points documented first, or a mediator, wouldn't work due to the personalities and emotions involved. The letter, as far as I am aware, was not ever meant as 'an ultimatum', the points it raises I believe are valid and come from some of the people who have worked close to the Free Fringe over the last several years and deeply care about it's past, present and future. Whether you agree with none of it, some of it, or all of it; let's discuss in the forum at Peter's behest.

Best regards to all of you Free Fringers,

Sean
________________________
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Http://www.welovecomedy.info
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Re: Free Fringe Ethos and Conditions 2013
Postby TheManinTheBowlerHat » 17 Oct 2013 03:29 pm

Having had a little more time to digest the letter I'll try to address the points in the order that they were raised.


1) COMMITTEE
I think that there is the need to have some sort of discussion about this. There are key points to be raised about this issue, for example: would any appointments be annual, bi-annual, lifelong? What would the positions on the committee be? Would the appointments be paid positions? How would it be decided who is on the committee? How many people would be on the committee? How often would they meet? What would happen if someone left at very short notice/was incompetent/was dishonest? Etc, Etc. There is a dialogue to be had here. Am I 100% in favour of it? No, but I'd like to hear the arguments both for and against.

2) QUALITY CONTROL
Quality control is important, and I think that generally when it comes to the quality of the acts putting on shows the Free Fringe has done very well in it's selection process. The quality control of the suitability of venues though is a different matter. I was lucky at my venue last year, in that my time slot meant it was very playable. For two other shows whose performance time was later it was not. They had to cancel their whole run. Putting a microphone into the middle of a pub does not mean that it is now a legitimate performance area. Those performers had spent a lot of time and money in preparing for Edinburgh and it turned out all to be wasted because the venue wasn't suitable. If it had have happened to me I'd have been inconsolable. I believe the "other place" insist that all it's venues have a separate room for comedy before it allows them to be a LH venue, perhaps the Free Fringe might look to do the same before it takes on any new venues.

3) FINANCES
The finances of the organisation should be transparent, I'd also like to raise the point about whether the Free Fringe should be a Ltd company, might it not be more advantageous to structure it as a charity, a mutual or a community interest company? I do not think that there was any implication by the authors that there had been any wrongdoing financially, just a desire to understand better how the organisation works.

4) PERFORMERS PASS/PACK
What a good idea. I particularly like the idea of the performers pass, LH do this and it works very well, giving up to 25% off the price of drinks in some venues. I'd love the Free Fringe to offer something similar.

5) Numbering bullet points
There was no number 5 in the document I was sent. I should like any further correspondence to be numbered correctly. I think that attention to dteail is critical.

6) SUBSCRIPTIONS
I absolutely disagree with this idea. The whole ethos is that this is the FREE Fringe, and as such I am 100% against a subscription fee. I do, however, understand the need to minimise last minute dropouts and so I would suggest a £100 non-refundable deposit to be paid by each show. This deposit would then be refunded to each performer at the end of the run as long as they had fulfilled their obligations to the Free Fringe.

7) COMMUNICATIONS
I think that the Free Fringe should be a little more savvy when it comes to communication, both within the organisation and without. I was pretty appalled to see the differences between LH and Free Fringe being compared to apartheid in the Summer, and several other comedians who weren't on the Free Fringe asked me if the analogy had actually been drawn. Things like this damage the credibility of the Free Fringe. It is very easy to respond in the heat of the moment and say things that should not have been said, if there was a communications officer this might help prevent such gaffes.

8) ADVERTISING
For this year's show I had a company who was interested in sponsoring my show. Mindful of the Free Fringes directives I told them that they could not sponsor me directly but that they could help by putting an advert in the brochure. They were very interested in doing this. I passed the contact details on and left it with them. Apparently they tried contacting the Free Fringe about placing an advert but no-one ever got back to them, as a result they didn't place any advert and the Free Fringe lost out on that revenue. I would like to see a similar situation prevented from happening ever again. One of the ways I think we could do this is to have an Advertising Manager, this is a position of real importance to the organisation, and it could be crucial in helping to ensure that the Free Fringe remains free. We've got a brilliant brand here but at the moment it is not being capitalised on. I think that a full-time advertising manager would be able to improve the finances of the company incredibly. As for acts being able to advertise their shows in the brochure, I'm fairly ambivilent about this, I don't believe that it actually makes much of a difference to audience numbers from the research that I have carried out. If there were adverts for shows in the brochure then I would prefer them to be in a separate section (at the end of the booklet maybe?) rather than scattered throughout the programme.

9) COMMUNICATION
See 7....and 5.

I believe that the authors of this letter have the best interests of the Free Fringe at heart. You only have to look at the amount of work that they have put in over the years to see that. I don't agree with them on everything, but I think that it might be productive to have a dialogue with them. We all want for the Free Fringe to be the best that it can be. Let's be open to listening to new ideas and proposals, for what doesn't evolve, dies.

I would like this to be sorted quickly, infighting, resentment, ill-feeling can all be caused and allowed to fester in situations like this. Nobody wants that. The quicker we can resolve this to the benefit of the Free Fringe the better.
TheManinTheBowlerHat

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Re: Free Fringe Ethos and Conditions 2013
Postby KateSmurthwaite » 17 Oct 2013 04:15 pm

1) COMMITTEE
There is a committee. Appointed by Peter. I agree last year there was some confusion over what the roles were, but I think that's not surprising since it's the first year there's been a committee. Already this (fringe) year there have been mails asking for volunteers for roles in the new committee, etc. I assume those who wanted to be more involved in the Free Fringe have applied.

2) QUALITY CONTROL
Quality control already exists. Dozens of shows were turned down. That doesn't mean some low-end shows don't get through. Frankly the policy is and should be to say yes to shows that might or might not be great, but to say no to people who haven't really got a show or who lack experience at the Fringe. Those without sufficient experience are better off forming a group show while they learn the ropes. We don't want a free fringe where you have to get rave reviews to even apply.

As to quality of venues - we already have a policy of insisting on a separate and dedicated performance space. AS YOU KNOW NIGEL the venue you had was a construction site when it was confirmed for FF last year and management assured us that they would configure it to suit our needs. They then didn't really do that. So we got straight on the case and sorted it out. The two shows that didn't work well there were offered an excellent alternative (I believe the gorgeous upstairs room at the Cowgate Head, but I may be remembering wrongly). The other shows were kept there rather than moving them about (though if anyone had asked to be moved, it would have been considered). To suggest that other promoters have a tighter policy on suitable spaces strikes me as major nonsense. Have you been to other venues? I've stood behind a post to watch a mime show. I've heard softly spoken comics trying to shout over a musical show just a curtain away. Every promoter at the fringe makes compromises and I think the FF makes an incredibly good job. If you are/were unhappy then explain the problem in your show report and the committee will address it going forward. Better still go find us a great new venue, set up a better sound-proofing system, suggest a programming strategy that would make the space work!

3) FINANCES
The Free Fringe finances have always been available. The idea that there's a lack of transparency is a problem for almost every venue/promoter at the Fringe other than the Free Fringe. No-one else I know makes their books available.

4) PERFORMERS PASS/PACK
Yes, I have made both of these suggestions in the past. If someone wants to volunteer to do these things, great, the Free Fringe will I am sure be delighted.


6) SUBSCRIPTIONS
The Free Fringe should be free. That's the point of it.

7) COMMUNICATIONS
I'm not against having a double-check system in place so that emails going to the whole FF community get a second read before mailing. Especially as we know they are often then leaked to press or others. I am happy to provide that (to others, obviously someone else would have to proof-read mine!).
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Re: Free Fringe Ethos and Conditions 2013
Postby CarsmileSteve » 17 Oct 2013 04:29 pm

I agree that the letter sets out a reasonable set of discussion points and is in no way an "ultimatum", these aren't a couple of people who wandered in last year and thought they had better ways of doing things, these are people who've put a hell of a lot of work in and should be listened to.

I was also appalled by the apartheid comment in August and thought it entirely unsuitable, also the denigrating of Other Free Shows when one of ours won an award, rather than celebrating what we have.

I very much agree that the endless arms race to get bigger and bigger could lead to a drop in quality of the acts (and actually, personally, i'm not so bothered about quality of performance as a thing, I'll let others argue about that), but i feel it will definitely lead to a drop in quality of the venues. There are a limited number of rooms and picking up venues simply because they'll have us leaves people stuck in rooms that really aren't suitable, i'd not heard about people cancelling whole runs, that's a crying shame. I'm not expecting Pleasance levels of tech/seats/young things in yellow guiding people about BUT a room has to be suitable for what's booked into it and more expansion will lead to worse rooms as some would argue it already has. We've made the point that we can do this, I don't see the need for expansion ever more...
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Re: Free Fringe Ethos and Conditions 2013
Postby Jools Constant » 18 Oct 2013 10:04 am

This reply is from me personally and does not represent the views of all the signatories in the letter.

I have worked tirelessly at considerable personal expense over 7 year to support the FF. despite everything, I adore Peter and have always had his back.
Many times Peter has been approached by many people to try and find solutions to issues he is constantly complaining about. We just tried to find solutions which would solve those problems and wrote it in away to get his attention. The letter was a heartfelt plea to, please, just once listen to our voice, the people who care the most and do so much to make it function.
The fact that Peter did not even acknowledge receipt of the letter and just went public directly along with a long tirade is proof that listening was never part of his agenda. It has been related to me that when asked if he would even discuss any of the proposals, he answered to the effect; I will concede nothing, I will not discuss or negotiate any of these issues in any way. It that the actions of a man who is running a collective where all have a voice?

I feel personally very hurt by this public out burst and feel that it is simply further proof that many of the issues we have outlined exist and are making life difficult for all of us.

Finally: Publically calling any one a Cunt on email and black listing people for sometimes very basic errors is completely unacceptable on every level, its aggressive and tantamount to bullying. I don not want to be a part of any organisation which says that is an acceptable way to carry on.

I am sorry you all had to see this mess, but I tried and my motivation was honest and sincere.
Jools Constant

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Re: Free Fringe Ethos and Conditions 2013
Postby Paul B Edwards » 22 Oct 2013 02:42 am

I have read the original letter and also been privy to a couple of subsequent emails. I would like to publicly back PBH and do not for one second think that this has been anything less than an attempted coup, and a botched one at that. I felt the document was patronising and almost designed to get the response it did. I have been openly critical of some of the things Peter has done or not done down the years but his integrity sets him apart from all of us and I trust him above all others. I'm incredibly disappointed that this has happened and all it has done is add grist to the other (in my opinion lesser) organisations' mill. I personally look forward to working with Peter towards 2014 and the successful continuation of the PBH FF, with or without the signatories of the document concerned.
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