In the U.K. in a town called Edinburgh, The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society lives and thrives. The organization underpins the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with the founding principle, “to be an open-access arts event that accommodates anyone with a story to tell and a venue willing to host them.” The policy is that no single individual or committee determines who can or cannot perform at the Fringe, and this is a beautiful concept to evolve how we put on art festivals.
About The Fringe
The festival covers a wide variety of art forms including cabaret, comedy, dance, circus, music, opera and theater. Unlike many other festivals, their constitution celebrates the fact that the Society does no “vetting” of the Fringe program. There is no art director, and the program is shaped by the initiative and vision of performers willing to showcase their work.
The Fringe runs from August 1 to 25, with venues ranging from a 16th-century courtyard house to a converted church. A record 3,193 shows and nearly 51,000 performances cement the Fringe’s position as the biggest annual arts festival in the world. The ambiance created by these interesting locations will hopefully make a lasting impression on the artists, and the spectators, so that they will return next year — and bring friends along with them.
This time of year is great for everyone in the U.K. who loves the arts — especially the host cities! Edinburgh annually doubles in size to about one million people due to various festivals including: the Fringe, the Edinburgh International Festival of the Arts, the Edinburgh Book Festival, and the Royal Military Tattoo — all taking place in August.
Festival season also proves profitable to the Scottish economy. An official survey has put the value of the festival season to around 250 million pounds, and the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow — from July 23 to August 3 — is said to boost the economy even further by drawing in an extended influx of visitors to the area.
An Art Festival for All
What can truly be appreciated is the leadership of The Fringe Society, who is dedicated to ensuring that all forms of art can be recognized and enjoyed. Who is to say what is and is not good art? Kath Mainland, chief executive of the Fringe Society, said she thought the key to the success of the Fringe “is that it’s an open-access festival and anybody who wants to take part in it can”.
How could that model not work? We are all continuing to grow on our paths of development: spiritual, emotional, artistic. Embracing the motley crew of art forms and the diverse skill-levels provides a unique experience. When cultivated and combined with the right atmosphere, it works well.
“You can see something that’s really new, that’s really avant garde, you can see every art form available and some things that adapt between the art forms,” she told Reuters.
We sincerely hope to see more festivals like this one pop up all over the world! We need them!