Guide to the Edinburgh Fringe

Guide to the Edinburgh Fringe

What is the Edinburgh Festival Fringe?

The Fringe is a festival which runs through most of August each year and is open to anyone to participate in. There is no overall body that curates and commissions the Fringe or decides which shows are suitable or allowed but the Edinburgh Fringe Society does produce resources to help and advise performers and producers as well as some oversight.

Some of the venues themselves will decide the sort of shows they wish to host but other than that there is very little either centralised control.

The 2023 Fringe went ahead in full with a similar number of shows as before the pandemic but overall ticket sales had not yet got back to the level of 2019. It’s difficult to make direct comparisons because not all shows have tickets on sales as they are free to enter.

What are the different options for performing?

There are a variety of options that are available including:

• Having a show put on by a producer.
• Performing in an established venue on a contract involving a ticket revenue split.
• Hiring a venue of whatever size and keeping ticket revenue.
• Booking a ‘free’ venue and collecting donations.
• Performing as part of a show produced by others.
• Street performing / busking.

Think about why you want to do Edinburgh

There are lots of reasons for doing a show at Edinburgh such as:

• To make money.
• To try out new material or hone skills.
• To get exposure for your work.
• To get a producer, manager or agent to further your career.
• To meet useful professional contacts.
• To see other work.
• To have fun.

Advice and information

Don’t get ripped off or put up with bad treatment - Join Equity 

There are always numerous stories of artists getting exploited when doing Edinburgh. Common scenarios are:

  • Large promoters and agencies offering to take your show to Edinburgh and covering the costs such as venue hire, travel and accommodation. In return, if the show makes a loss, you will have to provide future gigs for that promoter for no fee until the shortfall is paid off. This could be quite significant and take quite a few gigs and time to pay off.
  • Using a publicist through your agent / promoter. You may be paying them a large fee without any guarantee they’ll do anything for you. There are good PRs out there so worth doing some research and getting recommendations from artists you trust.

Ultimately if we want to tackle the issues faced by performers at The Edinburgh Fringe we need every working comedian to join their union. Together they can campaign against bad employers, rip-off accommodation and for better working conditions and pay for everyone.

Equity exists to bring together performers and allied creative workers to use their collective strength, in an industry where you can often feel that you have to fend for yourself. When our members come together they can create real change.

Equity membership includes important benefits like public liability insurance, accident insurance, backstage cover for your equipment and personal possessions, a whole range of free and reduced price legal services both at and outside work as well as advice and support from experienced officers and activists on contracts, payments and more besides.

It also covers any other areas of your practice as a performer, including things like DJing, compering, modelling, voiceover work, acting, walk-on parts, children’s entertainment and much more besides.

Join Equity

Comedians’ Network

Comedian's charter

This Charter was developed by the Equity Comedians' Network to improve the working conditions of live comedians.