Moving towards a more green, diverse, accessible and fair Fringe Festival

  • 03 Sep 2020
  • Written by Nick Cullen
  • Blog, General

Tell us a bit about Future Fringe.

Zero waste venue The Greenhouse, sustainable theatre network Staging Change, and LGBTQ+ organisation Somewhere, have come together to create the #FutureFringe campaign. This campaign, which is supported by the University of Edinburgh and the Fringe Society, invites anyone involved in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe to submit responses to the simple question “what does your #FutureFringe look like?”. We welcome input from residents, venues, and participants, and will be using responses to inform calls for change at all levels of the Festival on topics such as inclusivity, environmental sustainability and accessibility. Join in the campaign here:


What was the inspiration for Future Fringe? 

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe has become a staple of the events calendar not just in Edinburgh, but for arts groups across the world. Like many other major events, it will be particularly conspicuous by its absence this year – but that doesn’t mean the action stops.

Last year, Staging Change, The Greenhouse and the University of Edinburgh worked together to deliver the #SustainableFringe campaign (started in 2018 by Staging Change). We organised workshops, awards, talks and networking opportunities to encourage participants, venues and punters to think about the environmental impact of the festival. With big plans for Edinburgh Fringe 2020, we were motivated to make sure our work didn’t go to waste and instead galvanize artists, locals and festival organisations to imagine ways we can make hte festival even better.


What opportunities for change are possible from the cancellation of Edinburgh Fringe Festival?

The cancellation of the 2020 Fringe is disappointing, but it also gives us a unique opportunity to step back and think about how we can improve. Over 70 years, this is the first year it hasn’t taken place. This gives organisers and venues a year to reimagine and rethink. We want to start conversations with these stakeholders and suggest the changes that we would like to see. We want to explore any ideas and solutions for making the Fringe a better place, whether it’s reducing the festival’s carbon emissions; ensuring the festival becomes more physically and financially accessible; or building a space that is welcome to everyone. The responsibility to build a better, brighter, #FutureFringe lies with all of us. Thus far, 2020 has been a time of upheaval crisis, and rebuilding. That can extend to the Fringe too.


How is the Future Campaign going so far and who would you like to see getting involved?

We are receiving a number of responses from people and organisations from across the festival. However, we are always looking for more voices to take part, particularly as we’ll be reporting our findings to a number of Fringe stakeholders.

The Future Fringe campaign invites you to imagine a better Fringe. Whoever you are, wherever you are, we need your insights and opinions on how the Fringe can be fairer, greener, more diverse, more accessible. We want to hear from everyone – whether you’re an actor, a director, a producer, a writer, an audience member, or an Edinburgh resident. If you have thoughts about what the 2021 Edinburgh Fringe should look like, share them! You can join in here:


Tell us about some artists and projects that are already championing fairer, greener, more diverse and accessible arts at the Fringe.

Here are just some of the fantastic organisations and people doing great work at the Fringe:

FRINGE OF COLOUR – A multi-award-winning initiative dedicated to supporting Black and Brown people/People of Colour at the Edinburgh festivals, as artists, workers and audience members.

THE SICK OF THE FRINGE – The Sick of the Fringe is a community, which makes the world safe (or safer) for challenging art and challenging realities. The challenges they are particularly interested in fighting are inequality, inaccessibility, elitism and mediocrity.

CREATIVE CARBON SCOTLAND –  A fantastic charity aiming to embed environmental sustainability within the arts and cultural sector in Scotland 

FRINGE FESTIVAL SUPPORT – A community-funded daily chat show throughout the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, supporting artists with mental health.

CLARE HILL – A real-time stenographer captioning Fringe shows to make them more accessible for the deaf, deafened and hard of hearing.


What hopes do you have for COP26 in Glasgow 2021? 

We hope that at COP26, we will see much larger commitments taken by countries to reduce their carbon emissions. As the world still deals with the coronavirus pandemic, we hope that the huge steps we have all taken to reduce the risk of the virus spreading will be evidence that widespread change can happen, rather than a reason to continue pumping out carbon dioxide to reinvigorate the economy. We hope governments will realise that people’s lives are what we should be fighting for, and that the only way we can have a sustainable future is if we ensure we limit warming and aim for net-zero as quickly as possible. As the host of COP26, the UK must lead the way and put forward ambitious targets for reducing carbon emissions, as well as other forms of mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

  • Nick Cullen

    Nick is a past coordinator for the Climate Fringe platform and Climate Fringe Festival, working on strategy, website development and communications. He spent two years at SCCS in the lead up to COP26 and led on developing the Homestay Network, volunteering programme, COVID-19 safety, and many other aspects of logistics and operations in collaboration with the COP26 Coalition.