Comic Relief: The price for performing at the Fringe Festival is a joke

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is one of the largest arts festivals in the world, hosting over 3,000 acts a year. Artists from all over the world travel to Edinburgh, Scotland to perform and compete for prizes. (Photo courtesy of CALLUM BENNETTS – MAVERICK PHOTO AGENCY)

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe — my New York Fashion Week. For the month of August, established and aspiring creators travel to Scotland to share their latest works.

The Fringe welcomes all mediums of the performing arts. From operas to circus numbers, it’s available at the Fringe.

However, the most important section, and the part that interests me, respectfully, is the comedy section. Over 40% of the festival is made up of comedy acts, and the Fringe is celebrated as one of the best comedy festivals in the world.

Analyzing the festival line-up is like analyzing fashion week trends. Those who succeed in Edinburgh are the same people who will go on every show and win HBO stand-up promotions.

This is especially true for the coveted winners of Dave’s Edinburgh Comedy Awards (which are sponsored by UK TV channel Dave).

Winning one of the prizes is a surefire way to grab the attention of growers. The most coveted is the award for Best Comedy Show. At the last festival, Rose Matafeo won the award and has since become an international celebrity, even creating her own HBO show “Starstruck”.

The Best Newcomer award reaps similar benefits. The same year as Matafeo, Catherine Cohen received the award for her show “Catherine Cohen: The Twist…? She’s Gorgeous” which was made into its own Netflix special.

There is also the panel award, more commonly referred to as the spirit of the fringe, which is given to individuals or groups who make a major contribution to the comedy genre, especially when underfunded. Past recipients include Iraq Out & Loud, a performance piece that involved a 24/7 reading of the Chilcot Report, which details the UK’s involvement in the war in Iraq.

The power of the festival cannot be underestimated. However, achieving the Edinburgh dream becomes less attainable every year.

For established artists, the festival simply acts as a victory lap. Popular UK-based stand-up comedian Nish Kumar performed a week of performances to a venue of 500 people.

Kumar’s Fringe experience hasn’t always been a walk in the park – when he first started performing at the Fringe, he was losing money all the time. It didn’t matter that he sold out all his shows – the cost of putting on a show, which for him was £10,000, was too high.

Most artists simply cannot afford to take the risks that Kumar took, even if they wanted to.

The production of a solo exhibition is estimated between £6,000 and £10,000. This number does not take into account travel, accommodation, food and other living expenses.

Free Fringe is also an option – the program provides the venue for the artist, which takes a heavy financial burden off, but there’s a catch. The performer must also perform for free. The Free Fringe is also selective, unlike the regular Fringe where anyone can put on a show. Even if someone were to be selected, putting on free shows for a month just isn’t an accessible option.

Rising prices for shows at the Fringe have been criticized for years, but the conversation intensified at this year’s awards show.

The Spirit of the Fringe award for 2022 went to Best in Class – a group founded by comedian Sian Davies with the aim of supporting up-and-coming working-class comedians to perform at the Fringe.

The choice to commend a band for their bravery in overcoming the financial barriers of a festival that, as award-winning producer Nica Burns describes, is “open to everyone,” was ironic to say the least. Davies was quick to pick up on this as well, using his acceptance speech to denounce the festival’s “systematic bias”.

The struggle between exploring one’s creative endeavors and paying the bills is nothing new. Without the help of connections or money from family, the odds of succeeding in show business were always slim, but the Fringe was meant to be where anyone with a dream could go.

So while I’ll continue to follow the Fringe every August, I can’t help but mourn all the brilliant acts I’ll never get to see just because they don’t have thousands of dollars in revenue. available.

Kimberly Aguirre is a sophomore on acting. She is also an Arts & Entertainment Editor.

Daniel K. Denny