White text on a blue background reads: Fringe Society, Review of the year 2021

Shona McCarthy Photo: Colin Hattersley (2021)

Shona McCarthy Photo: Colin Hattersley (2021)

Chief Executive's introduction

2021 was one of the most challenging and transformative years in the Fringe’s 74-year history. It was a year that called for innovation, creativity and resilience in the face of ever-changing restrictions, and though there were times when it felt almost impossible to bring the Fringe to life again, I’m so proud that our extraordinary festival family managed to do exactly that.

When Phoebe Waller-Bridge joined the Fringe Society in February as our first ever president, she rightly said that the Fringe is “a global symbol of artistic freedom and experimentation”, and “is a beating heart of an industry that has been all but crushed by the pandemic”. Our mission in 2021 was to keep this glorious festival alive, and to ensure that our artists and creatives came back from such a difficult period.

The first four months of the year were spent navigating lockdown and preparing for our first ever hybrid Fringe. Though the situation with Covid was changing around us rapidly, and at times live events felt impossible, our priorities remained the same. Our focus was on delivering the safest event for artists, audiences and staff, while advocating for the arts and keeping the joy of performance alive.

We worked to strengthen our digital offering with the introduction of the Fringe Player: a new online platform which aimed to bring some festival magic into homes across the world, while providing a secure platform for artists, companies and venues to host their shows. We also worked closely with Scottish Government and City of Edinburgh Council to ensure that all planning for live events was in line with public health guidance.

In 2021 we made some big changes to the way we work, all the while keeping sustainability and accessibility at the forefront of our decision making. For the first time ever, we introduced e-ticketing for shows while reducing our print materials; in another first, almost half of the shows registered for Fringe 2021 were online. We also found new ways to connect artists to the media and to industry professionals, with online initiatives such as Fringe Marketplace, Fringe Connect and Tweet the Media. And we ensured Fringe artists could continue engaging with schools and communities around Edinburgh, via digital or socially distanced performances where possible.

We were delighted to be able to open registration in April and were overwhelmed by the positive response we received from artists and the public alike. In May, as the world started to cautiously reopen, we called for fair treatment of the arts when it came to social distancing guidelines. Finally, in July, we were able to sell our first tickets, with over 170 Fringe shows ready to go. By the time registration closed, there were more than 900 shows registered with the Fringe Society.

That we got to this point in August was incredible. But the success of the Fringe has never been defined by the number of shows. It’s defined by the quality of experience – and we know that by this token, for so many artists, audiences and operators, 2021 was a remarkable success indeed. I’d like to thank everyone who made this year happen, from artists, venues and audiences to our funders, sponsors and supporters. Thanks also to our staff and board who went above and beyond.

There’s still so much work to do to ensure the Fringe recovers as the best possible version of itself. But I’ve seen first-hand what the Fringe community can do under extraordinary circumstances, and I know that brighter days are coming. So here’s to our 75th anniversary and a wonderful Fringe renaissance in 2022.

Shona McCarthy
Chief Executive

Title: Who we are

The idea at the heart of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is simple: anyone with a desire to perform and a venue willing to host them is welcome. No individual or committee determines who can or cannot perform at the Fringe.

It all began in 1947 with eight companies – six of them from Scotland – taking a risk, turning up uninvited and performing on the “fringe” of the inaugural Edinburgh International Festival. More than 70 years later, the Fringe is a globally renowned celebration of arts and culture in all its forms; an essential go-to event for creatives, curators and people who love the performing arts.

The Fringe Society was founded by artists to nurture and uphold the Fringe's values of inclusivity, experimentation and imagination. We exist to support, advise and encourage everyone who wants to participate; provide information and assistance to audiences; and celebrate the Fringe and what it stands for all over the world.

Title: Supporting creatives

Our core charitable objective to support Fringe artists took on extra significance in 2021, as performers made their way back to the stage for the first time in 18 months. The Fringe has a well-earned reputation for attracting enthusiastic audiences who are receptive to new and inventive work; following a period where it was difficult for artists to even workshop new material in front of a crowd, let alone earn box office revenue from a finished show, the 2021 Fringe presented a more vital opportunity than ever. 

We understood that fewer artists would be able to come to the Fringe, whether due to lack of resources or continued uncertainty around Covid-19. In recognition of this, we took steps to ensure that those who felt able to come would have some financial help to do so:  

  • We reduced registration fees by 25%. 
  • For every ticket bought to a show, we rebated 20% of every booking fee back to the artists and venues presenting it. 
  • We continued to liaise with accommodation providers in Edinburgh (such as universities) to help artists secure affordable places to stay. 

In addition to financial assistance, the Society also continued to offer year-round support online and over the phone, as well as one-to-one, in-person advice sessions during August. We also developed online platforms – Fringe Connect and Fringe Marketplace – to help artists connect with fellow Fringe participants and members of the arts industry who could help them progress their careers. 

Artist and venue recovery fund

Back in August 2020, in response to Covid-19 and the resultant financial loss to Fringe creatives and venues, we raised £76,000 through our FringeMakers platform in partnership with Crowdfunder. These funds were raised with the promise they would be made available to artists and venues to help them return to the Fringe.

In June this year of 2021, we awarded shares of the fund to five venues and 15 shows to support their return to festival in 2021 and 2022. Funded projects include:

  • a physical theatre piece exploring the issue of identity in Hong Kong
  • an outdoor, site-responsive show about a man eschewing consumerism for nature
  • a semi-autobiographical one-woman play told in Scots-English and Urdu, following the stories of two Scottish-Pakistani women
  • a digital production exploring sex education and sexual awakening in a country under religious stronghold
  • accommodation grants to support working-class creatives at the festival. 

Image: Four Men lined behind each other kicking their legs out to the side, three are smiling, one isn't.

Fringe Connect

Launched in July, Fringe Connect is designed to bring Fringe artists together with peers and members of the arts community, wherever they are in the world, all through the year.

Part social network, part online events space, Fringe Connect lets users create a profile that reflects their professional experiences and interests (both Fringe-related and otherwise), facilitating connections among artists and companies who share similar goals.
They also have access to industry news, opportunities, how-to guides and resources, as well as digital events aimed at supporting and facilitating professional development.

Guests and speakers during the Fringe included journalist Lyn Gardner, actor Amy Conachan, playwright Jo Clifford, producer Richard Jordan, cultural consultant and broadcaster Andrew Miller and Battersea Arts Centre Artistic Director Tarek Iskander, plus many more. We collaborated with new and existing partners to curate a programme of 32 panel discussions, workshops and networking events, covering topics such as the reopening of UK venues, post-Brexit touring in the UK and producing during Covid-19 and beyond.

By the end of August more than 1,300 artists and arts industry professionals had joined Fringe Connect, where we have continued to host regular online events post-Fringe.

Fringe Marketplace

The Fringe is one of the most important arts marketplaces in the world where producers and programmers come to discover talent, buy work and create partnerships. It was essential that these connections could still be made, whether you could make it to the Fringe in person or not. Building on the success of a pilot project in 2020, Fringe Marketplace returned for 2021. This dedicated showcase platform digitally connects arts industry delegates all over the world with professional Fringe artists whose shows are ready to tour.

Over 360 arts industry professionals were granted access to Marketplace in 2021, where they could engage with more than 130 shows. In a year of unpredictable travel restrictions, Marketplace made the Fringe more easily accessible to international attendees: industry members hailed from 38 countries, while international showcases presented work from Taiwan, Finland, Switzerland and many more.

Made in Scotland

The Made in Scotland showcase is an invaluable platform for music, dance and theatrical talent from Scotland that’s supported by the Fringe Society, the Federation of Scottish Theatre, Scottish Music Centre and Creative Scotland. At the point in 2020 when we realised the Fringe couldn’t go ahead as planned, 19 shows had already been programmed as part of the showcase; we worked with 10 of these to adapt their work in line with Covid restrictions this year, with many of the remaining shows set to return in 2022. 

The adapted performances embodied the spirit of inventiveness and creativity that flourishes at the Fringe: a hybrid movement piece that took place both online and in the open air of Silverknowes beach; an online dance performance recorded in the atmospheric Greyfriars Kirk; a merging of live art, punk rock and contemporary electronica, filmed in the iconic Pleasance Courtyard. Made in Scotland received coverage in major media outlets including BBC TV and radio, the Times and the Guardian, further boosting the profiles of the programmed artists. 

Connecting artists with the media

Ensuring media coverage of the Fringe is an important part of our role and our Media team were once again on hand to help reviewers connect with Fringe shows. As well as providing a ticketing service and helping to arrange media interviews, from July, we sent weekly press releases as shows went on sale. We also offered expert, bespoke advice to artists on how to market their shows.

Every year we host Meet the Media – an event where artists can pitch their show to journalists with the aim of securing media coverage. This year’s Covid-19 restrictions required a change of tack, so we decided to experiment with an online alternative. Using the hashtag #TweetTheMedia, Fringe artists were encouraged to share details of their shows on Twitter, while journalists covering the festival were invited to monitor and engage with the tweets. Over the course of the eight-hour event, the hashtag was used over 1,300 times and was trending throughout the day. From a wider perspective, it’s estimated to have made around 1 million impressions – in addition to helping journalists and artists connect, it provided a great way for audiences to find out and get excited about shows.

Lobbying and advocacy

In addition to supporting artists directly, the Fringe Society works on their behalf at local and national government level, ensuring their rights and needs remain prominent on the political agenda. This year we met with the UK and Scottish governments, politicians and national funding bodies to discuss areas including:

  • event organisers’ insurance (in collaboration with the Creative Industries Federation and other membership bodies)
  • retaining the Fringe’s permit-free status in the wake of the UK’s exit from the European Union
  • visa-free touring for artists wishing to perform in the EU
  • advisory and planning meetings around Covid-19 regulations, including bringing distancing restrictions in line with hospitality, allowing many Fringe venues to operate
  • financial intervention to help venues and artists deliver Covid-safe events.

The Fringe Society also formed three strategic partnerships in 2021, to help us better support and engage with significant groups of participants and understand the barriers they might be facing at the Fringe:

  • Something to Aim For is the charity devoted to supporting public health and (re)building social fabric through the creative industries.
  • Parents and Carers in Performing Arts work to promote best practice employment and support for parents and carers in the performing arts sector.
  • Somewhere EDI is a platform for positive LGBTQ+ culture, learning and activism, championing and empowering LGBTQ+ people to be out and visible in business, culture and in wider society.

Image: An illustration of Cockburn street
Title: supporting audiences

In 2021, for the first time at such a scale, Fringe audiences could engage with work both online and in person, with artists, creators and producers embracing new ways to keep performance alive in our hearts and minds. The programme featured brave new works in progress; exciting revivals; reimagined classics; solo shows; family-friendly performances; international showcases; sketch shows; interactive digital works; outdoor site-specific productions; walking tours; immersive experiences and late-night, laugh-a-minute mixed bills. 

Ultimately, 528 in-person shows were able to take place at this year’s Fringe, with 414 online shows.  

The Fringe’s hometown always has a significant role to play in the festival’s success, and that was as true this year as ever – arguably more so, as fewer people were able to visit from overseas due to international travel restrictions. Over a third of Fringe audiences were Edinburgh residents in 2021, and a further 17% were from the rest of Scotland.  

Ensuring public safety

The Fringe Society worked closely with venues and government officials to ensure all shows could be delivered in accordance with Covid-19 guidance, to create a safe, secure and enjoyable festival for artists, audiences and residents. Shows took place online and new venues popped up with social distancing and fresh air in mind, including car parks, racecourses, tents and forests. We also ensured up-to-date safety messaging and advice was embedded in our communications, from marketing and ticket confirmation emails to website content and social media posts. 

In collaboration with venues, we adapted our box office systems so we could offer bubble seating, allowing household groups to sit together while maintaining a safe distance from other audience members. We revised our box office terms and conditions so we could offer exchanges and refunds to customers who could not attend due to contracting Covid-19 or being instructed to self-isolate. We also introduced e-ticketing to cut down on person-to-person contact – find out more below. 

We adapted our Fringe Shop at 180 High Street, installing a desk at the main entrance where visitors could get information or use our retail click-and-collect service. We also set up a display of Fringe merchandise in the shop window, alongside a live ticket availability screen for shows taking place over the subsequent three hours. 

82% of our audience survey respondents would recommend the Fringe to a friend or colleague.

Image: A masked woman plays the violin.
Image: Two masked women talk to each other through a plastic screen.

Online shows and Fringe Player

Audiences could watch online Fringe shows on demand when they wanted to or at scheduled point in time.

To help artists adapt their work for the online world – and to ensure audiences could access it easily – we developed Fringe Player, an online streaming platform. Of the 400-plus online shows that came to the Fringe this year, nearly half were available via Fringe Player and audiences tuned in from 67 countries around the world to watch them.

Audiences from 67 countries watched online Fringe shows.

Making sure these shows were as accessible as possible was one of our key considerations from the outset, so we ensured Fringe Player had the means to support subtitles, captions, audio descriptions and British Sign Language translations.


As well as its potential sustainability benefits, the planned introduction of e-ticketing was expedited to reduce person-to-person contact at the Fringe Box Office, though our box office staff were still on hand to provide friendly and knowledgeable customer service over the phone and online. We offered alternative solutions for customers unable to use e-ticketing due to access requirements or a lack of email or devices. We also worked closely with venues to ensure a range of front-of-house methods were available to suit their varied requirements.

Image: A phone with 'Fringe 2021' displayed on it.

Street Events

Our street events programme was smaller than in previous years, with 50 street performers and buskers taking part. It was as joyful as always, with everything from magic to live music happening in safe, managed locations on the High Street and the Mound. We also supported street performers to entertain audiences in the newly built St James Quarter, and provided British Sign Language interpretation on the High Street on Saturday 21 August.

Street events are one of the most vital and visible aspects of the Fringe, made possible by street performers contributing their wide-ranging talent and spirit. We are thankful to EventScotland and the City of Edinburgh Council for their support of these events.


The Fringe Society’s commitment to improving access for disabled people at the festival remains a priority. Customers with access requirements in 2021 could use our access tickets service and browse specific accessible performances such as relaxed, audio described, captioned and signed.

We also once again provided sensory packs for autistic children and adults visiting the Fringe. Each bag contains a fidget toy, earplugs, water bottle and a stress reliever. These items are designed to help users relax and overcome stressful or intense situations and were distributed to select partners across the city.


This year we built on our efforts to ensure that children and teachers in Edinburgh’s schools can experience the Fringe. We believe that engagement with the arts is beneficial at any age; helping Edinburgh’s children and young people enjoy the festival on their doorstep also helps inspire the next generation of artists and creatives. 

We progressed with Teachers’ Theatre Club, our partnership with Imaginate, which brings Edinburgh teachers to the Fringe and gives them the skills and confidence to discuss performing arts in the classroom.  

Our Digital Fringe in Schools project took place from September – December 2020, connecting Fringe artists with local schools to the benefit of both: offering opportunity and employment to performers while giving young people an experience of performing arts.  

We used Fringe Player to reach out to Primary 6 classes in the Gracemount and Liberton neighbourhoods, with more than 300 children watching an online show selected by their teachers. We also worked with teachers at Gracemount High School to select a circus show, Circus Alba, which visited the school and performed to classes in the final week of the Fringe. 

Community engagement 

Our Fringe Days Out scheme is a long-term commitment by the Fringe Society to reach out to communities that face barriers to engaging with the festival. Through this programme we delivered Fringe vouchers, Lothian bus tickets and access support to our 30+ community partners in 2021, including The Welcoming, Citadel Youth Centre, Lothian Autistic Society, Vintage Vibes and Capability Scotland.  

In response to some groups being unable or hesitant to visit the festival in person, we also brought back our Fringe in Communities programme, with street performers going out to locations across the city to perform during July and August. One street performer visited the Edinburgh Children’s Hospital and performed on the ward. 

Fringe@Broomhouse 2021 was a small, Covid-safe event that took place at the Broomhouse Centre in July, and included free lunch, two shows and Fringe vouchers for community members. 

Images: A juggler juggles fire in front of an audience outside. A woman plays guitar, smiling in the street.
Photo: A child sits at a table smiling


The Fringe Society has been working for years to improve the festival’s environmental footprint including gradually reducing the number of printed programmes and providing prop and flyer recycling services for Fringe artists.  

Covid-19 safety restrictions meant our plans to reduce paper usage were dramatically accelerated: the 2021 Fringe was fully e-ticketed (also reducing the impact of stock delivery and ticket postage), we didn’t print a programme and discouraged the use of flyers to reduce person-to-person contact. Working from home also discouraged printing and excess waste and presented an opportunity to realise how we can reduce the impact of our premises management, while a move from server to cloud-based storage for our computer systems resulted in a reduction of energy use and email attachments sent, further cutting our utility footprint. 

Other sustainability measures we took this year included introducing online initiatives such as Fringe Player, Fringe Connect, Marketplace and #TweetTheMedia, allowing audiences, artists and arts industry to participate in aspects of the Fringe without travelling to Edinburgh.  

Sustainability was also a key pillar of our advocacy and engagement work – in January 2021 we were a founding signatory of Edinburgh’s Climate Compact, committing to reducing the city’s carbon emissions, and our Chief Executive was part of the Cop26 City of Edinburgh Council Advisory Board. 

Title: Celebrating the Fringe

Every year we launch a campaign to help promote the Fringe and what it stands for, attracting visitors to the festival and thereby providing artists with a better chance of finding an audience. This year’s campaign theme was inspired by starling murmurations and the idea that, just like the Fringe, something spectacular occurs when hundreds of individuals come together. It celebrated both the in-person and online shows on offer in 2021.  

We worked with Maria Doyle, a local linocut artist specialising in architectural prints, to create three familiar Edinburgh street views and a selection of birds and murmurations. The birds swirling above the city captured the dynamism of the Fringe and, although set in Edinburgh, it could be viewed and enjoyed from further afield. We added bright colours to the birds, a background of blue sky and a hint of sunrise to represent brighter times ahead. 

In addition to promotional artwork, we used Maria’s designs to create a line of 2021 campaign merchandise, which we sold via the Fringe Shop to help further fund our charitable work. The campaign struck a chord with Fringe audiences: merch items bearing Maria’s street scenes have been hugely popular.  

We produced a Fringe trailer – a short video to promote the festival on social media, giving a taste of the shows on offer. Usually created in time for the launch of the printed programme in June, we delayed the release of this year’s trailer to mark the start of the festival (06 August), giving artists more time to submit footage. This year’s trailer comprises clips from 77 different shows, both online and in person, and proved popular on social media – particularly among artists and companies featured in it, who were excited to be involved.  

We also supported Fringe venues via Instagram this year, handing over the reins of our Instagram Stories for a series of takeovers throughout August. Seventeen venues took us up on our takeover offer, helping spread awareness of their programmes to new audiences and strengthening relationships within the Fringe community.  

Image: Three examples of the Fringe artwork for 2022
Image: A range of different merchandise, a t-shirt and mug.

Our first ever President

In January we appointed the Fringe Society’s first President: Phoebe Waller-Bridge, whose success in taking Fleabag from Fringe show to award-winning TV series provided an inspiration to Fringe artists.

Since assuming the role of President, Phoebe’s support has been phenomenal; working with Edinburgh Gin, she designed a Fleabag-themed bottle whose proceeds will support the Save the Fringe campaign (see below).
She also visited the Society and attended shows during August, and sent a message of support as the festival commenced:

“The Edinburgh Fringe is BACK! In an act of pure artistic heroism, the Fringe Society and thousands of artists, writers, dancers, actors, designers, comedians, musicians and creatives have fought to bring this festival back to the streets of glorious, glittering Edinburgh. We have a lot of time to make up for and this festival is more than ready for you.

“With hundreds of live and online events you can see as many shows in a week than you would have in the whole of last year and we are finally able to reconnect, inspire, surprise and entertain each other like we used to. I have never wanted to have a leaflet thrusted at me more. We’re being offered a giant cultural sprinkler after a year of drought and I can’t wait to jump through it, shrieking, with you all.”

Rare Birds

Continuing the theme of female support for the festival, we also worked with Rare Birds, an online reading club turned Edinburgh bookshop. Their mission is to promote the amazing range of female writing talent, so working with the Fringe felt like a natural fit.

Three women from across the Fringe family – Dani Rae from Assembly, Rowan Campbell from Summerhall and Katy Koren from Gilded Balloon – each selected a title for a Rare Birds book bundle, which was accompanied by an information booklet on the work of the Fringe Society and our charitable objectives. We’re incredibly grateful that Rare Birds are donating 25% of proceeds from the bundles to our Save the Fringe campaign.

Record positive coverage

In 2021, the Fringe Society received more positive media attention than ever before. Our Chief Executive and other key staff were interviewed throughout the year – and in particular during the Fringe – by a wide selection of national and international broadcast, print and online media on a variety of topics, from our Covid-19 response to the importance of culture as part of wider recovery across the sector. We received a record amount of coverage from outlets including the BBC, the Guardian, the Scotsman, STV, the Stage, the Times, Good Morning Britain and the New York Times.

Just over a thousand individuals accredited with our Media Office in 2021.


The Fringe is a significant international event and remained so even in a year where international travel was discouraged and, in many cases, prohibited. Our online presence meant that everyone – from artists and audiences to media and industry experts – could still experience the festival without the need to travel.

Thirty-eight countries were represented on the Fringe this year, with work from nine countries featured as part of international showcases. Meanwhile, audiences tuned in from 67 countries around the world to watch online Fringe shows.

942 shows from more than 30 countries took place at the 2021 Fringe.

Fringemas Fundraiser

Building on the success of the FringeMakers platform in 2020, which raised funds for artists and venues across the Fringe landscape, we launched our own Crowdfunder in November 2020 to raise a target of £25,000 for the Fringe Society. We created Fringe-branded Christmas baubles to offer as rewards and sourced raffle prizes from Fringe alumni including Joe Lycett, Bryony Kimmings, Jason Donovan, Richard Gadd and Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda. In the end we succeeded in raising £25,462.

Save the Fringe

Towards the end of August we announced the launch of Save the Fringe, a £7.5m fundraising campaign to help aid the long-term recovery of the Fringe following the devastating impact of Covid-19.  

The campaign is driven by seven principles: 

  • to support artists and venues who bring work to the Fringe 
  • to break down barriers to participation in the Fringe 
  • to build and support sustainable practices across the festival 
  • to deepen engagement with Edinburgh residents 
  • to extend engagement with young people, particularly from underrepresented areas of our city 
  • to create opportunities for network building and professional development for artists and arts industry across Fringe platforms 
  • to secure a new home for the Fringe Society to provide a year-round space for artists, community groups and schools. 

The campaign is expected to take place over three to five years, with consultations currently in progress to determine how funds will be distributed. Edinburgh residents, artists, venues, producers, local businesses and more will be invited to explore ways the festival can develop and improve. 

Edinburgh Gin are on board as founding investors in Save the Fringe, with an estimated £150,000 investment to come from the sales of its collaboration with Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Around £160,000 has also been raised thanks to the kind generosity of individual donors. 

85% of our 2021 audience survey respondents agreed that the Fringe is one of the important culture events in the world.  

Chair's note

My role as Chair of the Fringe Society board of directors began in March 2021, and since then, people have asked me the same question – one I know Fringe Society team members hear on a regular basis. “So, what do you do for the other 11 months of the year?”

The truth is, given the sudden and seismic changes this year has thrown at us, I’m still figuring out how to answer that question – though this review goes some way to articulating exactly how much the Society has done in 2021. Reading through it, I’m reminded of how we’ve strived to help a wide range of audiences experience the excitement and benefit of live performance, working with them to overcome whatever barriers to taking part they may face. I see how we’ve celebrated this amazing festival and what it stands for all over the world – and, in situations where people have been unable to visit Edinburgh, we’ve thought up ways to bring a bit of Fringe magic to them, wherever they are.

Most of all, I see the concerted effort we’ve put in to support artists at a time when they need it most. For the last year and a half, the companies and individuals whose work animates the Fringe have been unable to properly stage or even develop their work; having emerged from a period of intense lockdown, they’ve faced – and continue to face – a raft of ever-changing restrictions on how, when, where and to whom their work can be performed.

I’m not arguing that any of these restrictions are unnecessary – both the Fringe Society and I recognise that the pandemic is a very real and serious threat, and needs to be combated in any way possible. What I am saying is, when the creators behind the work that has enriched our lives need urgent help, it’s our job to step up and support them.

The Save the Fringe campaign is the backbone of our strategy for providing this support while ensuring the Fringe returns better than before. The hard reset that’s been forced upon us by events beyond our control represents a unique opportunity – to be more sustainable, more diverse, more inclusive and more affordable, dismantling the obstacles that stand in the way of those who wish to take part but feel they can’t.

At the time of writing, the Fringe Society is holding consultations with everyone who has a stake in this festival – Edinburgh residents, artists, venues, producers, local businesses and many more. The Fringe doesn’t belong to any single person or organisation, which means we all have a hand in making it better. The Fringe Society is uniquely placed to apply its convening power, ensuring that all these efforts come together to create a stronger vision for the festival in the future.

As a resident of Edinburgh for more than three decades now, I’m as excited as anyone to see the Fringe return to its former glory. Let’s make it more glorious than ever.

Benny Higgins
Chair of the board

Income and expenditure

In 2021, income from box office commission and fees, advertising, registration, our Fringe Friends scheme and sponsorship was vastly reduced. We are grateful for the support of funders and agencies and the City of Edinburgh Council for their continued annual support. We would also like to thank the Scottish Government for their support via the Platform for Creative Excellence Programme and their ongoing investment in Made in Scotland through the Edinburgh Festivals EXPO fund, as well as the Department for Culture Media and Sport, Event Scotland, Scottish Enterprise, SCVO and the British Council.

Other income includes donations, rental income, Gift Aid and a management fee from our trading subsidiary. The majority of our expenditure goes on providing services and infrastructure, staffing the Society, our iconic street events, marketing the Fringe in its entirety and, in 2021, securing new ways to support artists through the ongoing pandemic.

A pie chart dividing areas of income. Total income: £2,504,599
A pie chart showing the distribution of expenditure. Total expenditure: £3,102,588

We couldn’t have done it without you 

The Fringe Society is a registered charity which relies on the financial and strategic support of our partners and sponsors, and the generosity of our Angels, Patrons, Friends and supporters. 

Our heartfelt thanks to everyone who helped us in 2021 – without you none of the work covered in this review would have been possible. 

Logos of various companies that have supported the Fringe