Edinburgh 2012! Thoughts and an award.

As one edinburgh fringe finishes, now is perhaps the time to start thinking about next years festival!

 

There were a number of shows from Wales at this years fringe of varying sizes, from both national theatres to one person shows. Was it a good experience? What did you learn from going? Are there lessons we can share?

 

Kat Jones bloged about Bandwagon's experiences this year and the lessons learnt during their fringe, but what else can we share to make next years experience better for us as a comunity? How can we strengthen our presence at the worlds largest arts festival - following the sucess of Escalator East to Edinburgh & Made in Scotland should there be a similar scheme to help Welsh theatre makers take work to Edinburgh? 

 

I'm aware that I'm asking a lot of questions, but I believe now is the time to ask them. So here's a list of my thoughts & questions - at the end of which you'll find details of an award from Les Enfents Terrible to help a company taking a piece to next years festival.

 

Should the Edinburgh Fringe Roadshow come to Wales (this year it went to London, Edinburgh, Manchester, New York & Adelaide)?

What venues did you find helpful or Unhelpful?

What did you wish you'd known before you started?

Is going to Edinburgh worth it?

Could you have shared accommodation/ a van/ a performance slot with another company?

Did you get the press in to see your shows? How/why not?

Was your budget realistic? Would you be willing to share this information (if we pooled it and anonymised it?)

What advice and support could you have been given?

What advice would you give a first time company?

Was the show ready on the first night in Edinburgh?

Did you make full use of twitter/facebook/ flyering/ badgering to sell your show?

Should Wales have an equivalent to the Escalator scheme?

 

Far too many questions I know but I think it would be useful to start a dialogue now to see if we can support companies going to the fringe next year.

 

Finally here's a great opportunity from Les Enfants Terribles, who've been performing on the fringe for the last 9 years. They're offering an award to mark their 10th year - including cash, a venue & mentoring click here for more details.

 

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Comment by Matt Ball on October 20, 2011 at 15:11

For anyone who didn't know what I meant by Escalator - this is the call for next year.

Escalator East to Edinburgh 2012 applications open

Escalator East to Edinburgh is an exciting opportunity for emerging / mid-career / established artists and companies who are either directly located in the region or who have very strong links to the East of England.

 

These include performance artists/companies, including theatre, dance, live art, live literature and outdoor arts.

 

For more information and guidelines please visit:

http://www.colchesterartscentre.com/east-edinburgh 

Comment by Matt Ball on September 21, 2011 at 9:57

Thanks Guy, that made for interesting reading.

 

Gareth - I didn't have anything particular in mind - I'd suggest we see if we get any more interest expressed here and then look at setting up a meeting for anyone interested later in the year.

Comment by Guy O'Donnell on September 20, 2011 at 19:18

If this consultation document becomes a reality perhaps it may offer a way forward.?

It would be interesting if Venues, companies, individuals,producers etc could throw their hats in the ring to say if they would be interested in supporting. 

Any potential planning could then begin and see where it leads...

I wonder if one of the venues would be interested in hosting an intial meeting ??

Theatre Production Development - Summary of the consultation and ou...

Comment by Gareth Clark on September 19, 2011 at 18:25
Yes I would say to Guy...there needs to be discussion. Did you have something in mind Matt?
Comment by Guy O'Donnell on September 19, 2011 at 13:32
Hi All
I wonder is there any desire to discuss the possibility of a group of people who have the aim of getting work to the fringe in 2012 ?
Comment by Matt Ball on September 19, 2011 at 12:15

Thanks for your thoughts Gareth,

As someone who used to programme a venue & festival, as well as someone who's tried to get my work programmed, I know this frustration well from both sides. We're all aware that Edinburgh is a very expensive place to present work, but also the only place where a company without a big reputation have any chance of getting seen by the national press or venues from accross the world.

The need for strategic planning is a good way of expressing it  - as a company/artist you need to know why you're going and what you want to achieve, and as a funder/supporter of work you need to be strategic about making sure you're getting the right work to the worlds biggest arts shop window. 

You also need to be able to enjoy it - there's nothing worse than seeing unbridled enthusiasm strangled by the small audiences, wet feet, and frost-bitten flyering hands that a badly planned festival can induce!

Comment by Matt Ball on September 19, 2011 at 11:45

Hi Sarah,

Thanks for you thoughts - hope you've recovered from your 24/7 month.

Comment by Gareth Clark on September 18, 2011 at 10:48
I think you are right Matt to ask these questions now. It has been lovely to hear about the Welsh presence this year at the fringe and likewise to read the experiences of those involved. For any small independent business advice and guidance in such tough economic times is invaluable and I welcome the opportunity to share in others expertise. I attended a British Council event in Chapter last year that highlighted the lack of Welsh based companies at the Showcase in previous years. WAI were in attendance and there were constructive comments fed on to them that they were to brew on. I have not heard any follow up from this event....so I wonder what their intentions are in terms of supporting companies attempts to show work at the Fringe. It is clear that Welsh programmers attend the event on mass...it is also clear to develop your work in Wales you need their support and it is not always easy unless they have seen your work. Last year I had a provisional booking in a Welsh venue replaced by a show that had been seen at the Fringe. It is clear that to participate in this event and in these difficult financial times there is a need for clear strategic planning and hard work....I look forward to further discussion in this thread.
Comment by Sarah Jane Leigh on September 9, 2011 at 18:45

 

What advice and support could you have been given?

 

I was lucky as I had a lot of it . . . so I can’t really answer this . . . FLAT SHOES AND WATER PROOFS J

 

What advice would you give a first time company?

 

Firstly, to figure out why they were going to Edinburgh and what they wanted out of it as it may not be worth them going and may instead be worth while for them doing a tour of fringe theatres instead or a specific festival.

 

Edinburgh is very expensive, realistically look at whether you can afford it. You need to pay for your venue, flyers (you will need about 20,000 if you are there for the month) and posters (we had about 5,000 I think) and other promotional material (T-shirts and other things that can help with promoting you as a brand), accommodation, living expenses, printing costs . . .

 

Is your work the best it can be? If it isn’t . . . maybe you should make it the best it can be or not go.

 

Was the show ready on the first night in Edinburgh?

 

Yes – we took the show on a warm up tour around the UK.

 

Did you make full use of twitter/facebook/ flyering/ badgering to sell your show?

 

Yes – we flyered everyday for at least something like 20 hours between the company whilst also exit flyering other shows, we were constantly updating information and content to twitter and facebook and communicating with other companies. We were networking in the evenings and at other shows we went to – always carry a flyer and a business card . . .

 

Should Wales have an equivalent to the Escalator scheme?

 

Yes – I met the organizers of the Escalator scheme and they were very on it – helping their companies with their venues and any problems that arose – It also helps to sell shows through branding whilst giving them a sense of being less of a risk to the general public. I think that Welsh theatre is not promoted enough Nationally and Internationally and a scheme such as this could be deployed to not only Edinburgh but internationally as well. Welsh theatre companies and practitioners and producers deserve an international platform!  

Sorry I have written alot - would love to be involved further with anything which comes out of this :) If you'd like to catch up for a coffee I'd be up for that as well xxx
Comment by Sarah Jane Leigh on September 9, 2011 at 18:42

 

Hey Matt,

 

Sorry about the delay - I have been settling back into life in Cardiff and trying to write my masters dissertation. Hope the below helps:

 

Should the Edinburgh Fringe Roadshow come to Wales (this year it went to London, Edinburgh, Manchester, New York & Adelaide)?

 

I think it would be nice if the Roadshow did come to Wales but I don’t know whether we have the infrastructure to support it at current . . . the places you mentioned it visiting all have fringe festivals of their own and so it would be interesting to see whether it would be mutually beneficial to Welsh audiences and the Roadshow. I would like to see the British Council’s supported pieces coming to Wales as I found them all extremely interesting and inventive pieces of theatre.

 

What venues did you find helpful or Unhelpful?

 

Myself, and the rest of our company, found other companies more helpful than venues. We had little help from our venue, we were at the Pleasance, with press and so on . . . they even managed to get our days off wrong and were more of a hindrance. However, it is important to note that the Pleasance supported their co-productions much more and of course they would, they had invested money in those productions. Plus to what extent should they be assisting at the end of the day . .

 

What did you wish you'd known before you started?

 

That I would be working 24 hours a day J . . . No I was very lucky as the company I worked for had been previously and knew a lot about what it would be like and what we would need to do to sell our show to the public and so on . . . 

 

Is going to Edinburgh worth it?

 

Depends what you want from it and whether you have the fund and time. If you are going to make money then no, you are lucky if you cover costs let alone make a profit (We were lucky enough to make enough to cover our costs, but it was hard work). However, if you are going to build your profile with Uk venues, promoters and the media, then yes. Our company has received a lot of interest off of the back of Edinburgh in regards to people wanting to book our show and national media coverage.

 

Could you have shared accommodation/ a van/ a performance slot with another company?

 

Not really, however, we would have liked to share a night time slot with another company, as even though we are pigeon-holed into the category of children’s theatre, our work has a universal reach, shown by the number of adults at our lunch time show, and having a slot at night every other night would have allowed us to reach that segment more.

 

Did you get the press in to see your shows? How/why not?

 

Just writing the show’s press report now and we did get a lot of press into see the show including National coverage which was what we were aiming for – we were on the culture show, a journalist from a National paper came to see the show and got a number of very useful 5 and 4 star reviews. However, with Children’s theatre it is always a battle for coverage let alone in Edinburgh J

 

Our preparation started about a month before Edinburgh – we started to contact every publication on the Fringe Media List by sending them our press release and then up until the end of the fringe we carried on regular contact through email and telephone and networking up until the end of the fringe.

 

Was your budget realistic? Would you be willing to share this information (if we pooled it and anonymised it?)

 

I think our budget was realistic but I would have to check with the rest of the producing team as to whether we could share it.

 

What advice and support could you have been given?

 

I was lucky as I had a lot of it . .

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