Some thoughts.

How shall the Free Fringe be organised and run in the future?

Some thoughts.

Postby danny.worthington » 06 Mar 2010, 12:11

Liaison/Relationship Management.

I think one of the most important tasks that Peter provides is liaison with the venue owners throughout the year. Although we as performers have regulary contact with the venue managers during the fringe and these relationships are important, some of the managers are not the owners/decision makers who we need to agree to our presence.

I think that a group of people needs to be formed with a responsibility for maintaining relationships with such people on a year round basis.


If we are to avoid fees, we need to raise funds. The programme must be produced. Admin must be done. OK the programme should pay for itself by advertising and we should carry on this avenue, but the programme production budget has needed to be supplemented with other funds when not enough advertising has been sold. The benefit has been a source of income for the last two years, however it will need someone to organise it, presumably someone who has good relationships with star names who can draw a decent audience.

We tried a raffle at the benefit this year which raised some small amount of funds and possibly could be repeated in comedy clubs sympathetic to the Free Fringe - a small lottery (a raffle where all the tickets are sold to people attending an event at the event and the draw is made and announced at the event) does not require a license. All you need is a book of cloakroom tickets and someone willing to donate a prize.

How long should people stay on the blacklist. Should this vary according to their transgression of the Free Fringe Conditions. Should we be able to provide an amnesty at any point.

Programme Planning
In Peter's absence we would need people to make a judgement as to whether acts/shows are suitable for performance at the Free Fringe. Should we look to individuals to do this or panels.

We would also need someone to do the physical work of scheduling the acts into the various venues. There would need to be a system of how to do this. I personally think some sort of points system per show may help with this (don't ask me what this would be as I ony have a couple of ideas for criteria).

OK just some random thoughts that may help kick off the discussion. I can't make the meeting on Sunday 14th hope many of you can. If not put some thoughts down on the forum.
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Re: Some thoughts.

Postby Paul B Edwards » 28 May 2010, 10:47

I would be happy to perform at any benefit I could get to and would also be happy to make a contribution towards the production of the paper programme in the event of not attracting any advertising for it. Whilst I appreciate the ethos of the free fringe is just that - it's free - I don't think it's unjust to ask for help covering the costs of some of the advertising. Every performer could afford a tenner and it might take some of the pressure off. I don't think this sets a dangerous precedent, particularly if a line is drawn in the sand that this is the only instance where this would apply.

Paul B. Edwards
Paul B Edwards
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Re: Some thoughts.

Postby PBH » 17 Jun 2010, 02:14

I had meant to reply to this earlier, but a machine crash killed my answer and I didn't start again.

Levies on performers are in my opinion very dangerous. They're the first step to becoming what we've set out to replace. Do them once, and it becomes much easier to do them a second time. In almost no time at all, they've become a membership fee, participation fee, listings fee or whatever you want to call it. And then we become something different to what we are.

The Laughing Horse already do this. They charge their acts for programme listings -- except, of course, their slightly more famous ones. I don't know their costings, but I know ours, and in my view they are recouping much more from their programme listing charges than it actually costs to print. And not treating every show equally, which I think is also wrong.

We won't do this.

It would be the thin end of a very thick wedge.

And it would turn everybody from being members, having to do their bit in order to make the whole thing work, into customers, demanding a return for their service fees. At the Free Fringe, you pay in a currency other than money. It's called commitment.

Sometimes it's easier to pay money than to give commitment. But commitment is the currency we need. You can't buy it. You can buy competent professional organisers to do what our members do, but they're way beyond our budget, and even if we could afford then they wouldn't do it with soul. We have soul.

We could cover the cost of the programme for £2 per performance (per performance, not per show; we couldn't cover much for £2 per show). We could cover all the costs of the Free Fringe for a levy of £3 per performance, except that it would cost something to collect and monitor that levy. If every show bought a £10 annual membership to the Free Fringe Ltd (we can do this now we're a non-profit company, but so far we haven't) that would cover about half the annual expenses apart from the programme print. All these things are possible. But all these things would change the nature of the Free Fringe, and I would hate that.

All the members who do such excellent work, on the programme, the database, various aspects of the organisation, the venue liaison and all the other jobs, do so out of love for what we can achieve together. Money can't buy that. The money that we can afford couldn't even buy a pale imitation of it.

Advertising sales are the key to making the programme work. If we had a programme as big as the Fringe Programme, we'd have to charge to be in that. But right now we don't need that. We just need people to sell advertising. I've done my share.

Benefits? Oh, yes, we like them. But they're unreliable. There are several types. The big Bloomsbury benefits -- the one with Sean Lock and others sold the Bloomsbury out, the one with Stewart Lee and others did well, but didn't sell all the possible tickets. The sort of big name acts we need for these benefits are very heavily booked and quite difficult to get hold of; I know them, but I don't necessarily have their numbers. The smaller local benefits, of which we'd need to have several to equal one Bloomsbury show, depend on there being a regular audience at the clubs at which they're held. And those clubs need their income for their own survival, so the opportunity isn't always there.

Yes, we have to raise funds to survive. But if we become mostly about fundraising, then again we've lost ourselves.

Liverpool's Catholic cathedral is a fine and interesting building (as indeed, at the other end of Hope Street, is the Protestant one). But go inside, and read the stories of the fundraisers held by the poor to raise pennies from the equally poor, to erect this costly building within a very rich organisation, and wonder what constitutes money well spent and money not well spent. I don't know the answer. But I think the Free Fringe is a cathedral of the spirit, a monument to co-operation and partnership within a game so often marred by wild egotism. Better that each of us lays a course of bricks to build it, than we pay money to bricklayers who are not of our faith. This is probably a ridiculous metaphor, but it's late and I'm old.

By all means, dear members, discuss our future and our funding in this thread.

PS Somewhere within Liverpool (RC) Cathedral, the story is told about how badly it leaked, and the appropriate authorities considered pulling it down and starting again. And the pennies of the poor, given at all those fundraising events, would have been wasted. And they'd have been asked for yet more.
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Re: Some thoughts.

Postby George Lewkowicz » 31 Aug 2010, 11:04

Hi guys,

I really enjoyed my first Free Fringe, and will be back next year. But I will admit that I really struggled with time coming up the the Fringe, and so was not able to give as much back to the society as I would have liked. I don't think voluntary contributions are a bad idea. Also, why is the brochure not open for performers to put in adverts? That way, PBH could give something back from people's 'voluntary contributions', helping the whole thing remain free for those that can't afford it. I know that this means that some shows will be more prominent than others in the programme, but I'm sure if we opened it up then the programme would be guaranteed to make money, and hence fund all the other costs.

George Lewkowicz
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Re: Some thoughts.

Postby markquinn » 31 Aug 2010, 21:22

i think we should be looking to organise benefits already

if we could organise a small venue maybe a 70 seater, prehaps someone has access to such a venue they could provide free. we would only need charge £10 a ticket, have three events between now and next year an we will have already raised £2100

we also need to promote the use of this forum, it is going to be of great importance if we are going to continue the great success of this year

mark quinn (the unwrong quiz & richard dawkins does not exist)
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Re: Some thoughts.

Postby gareth morinan » 04 Sep 2010, 20:37

Firstly, I would echo the idea that we should relax restrictions on advertising. Open it up to free fringe performers, as well as other performers and venues (e.g. Five Pound Fringe, any specific shows that advertise in the fringe programme). Also are free fringe venues that provide other services other than comedy (food, clubbing, etc) they may want to advertise in the programme.

Secondly, we need to create more ways in which free fringers can help fund raise. I think the best way to do this is to run several 'best of the free fringe' shows during the festival. These would be compilation shows of perhaps 3 acts and a compere, with all bucket contributions going directly to the free fringe's funds. If there were, say, 2 shows (7pm and 9pm say) both at venues with 100+ capacity, and the shows there advertised widely (perhaps they could be advertised in the free fringe programme) then you'd get large audiences, and the compere would be able to sell the fact that the collection goes to fund the free fringe. Those shows could bring in a substantial amount of money. And there are many performers who do not contribute much to the running of the free fringe, but taking time out to do spots on this show (as well as flyering for it, booking it etc) would be a perfect way of them contributing. Also you could encourage the audience to donate more by saying something along the lines of 'if you donate £10 or more you because a friend of the free fringe, and will receive regular updates and be listed on the website as a friend of the free fringe'.

The first point may not be agreed upon by everyone. Though I should hope the second one is.
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Re: Some thoughts.

Postby James Christopher » 09 Sep 2010, 11:40

Some great ideas there Gareth, I think the 'Best Of The Free Fringe' is nice. Richard Herring lists all the names of the people who sponsor his programme, with the size of their name corresponding with how much they've given.

The idea of pushing advertising space towards Fringe-based eateries and pubs etc also seems a good opportunity.
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Re: Some thoughts.

Postby nicola.bolsover » 27 Sep 2010, 21:05

I agree with PBH that the Free Fringe should remain free, otherwise where will it stop?
I think the problems we have selling advertising space is that a great number of us work for companies who would have little interest advertising in Edinburgh, either because the business is a local one based elsewhere, it cannot afford advertising, or it is too big a corporation to need to advertise. For me, the company for which I work falls into the latter.
I think we should all be able to help raise money throughout the year, through some of the suggestions others have made in this forum.

We, at `Quiz in my Pants` are starting a London run of our show on the 25th October (a monthly event). We will be making a small entry charge, the proceeds going to the costs of bringing our show back to Edinburgh in 2011. We would be delighted to be associated with PBH's Free Fringe, and to advertise so. We would also be hoping to be taking the show back to Edinburgh with PBH's Free Fringe.
We are proposing to raise some money for the Free Fringe during these shows. Our current thoughts are to run a raffle, although we would need help finding decent prizes. Or, one of our proposed venues has offered 10% of the bar takings as a donation (this is yet to be negotiated, confirmed, etc.) which would probably make a bit more money. Whichever we do, we would also make an announcement about the Free Fringe, letting people know how to make donations, should they wish to.

No doubt this will not make a huge amount of money. But if all shows put on by PBH associates were to have a similar set-up, the money would soon add up. If we made £20 each show, we would raise £200 throughout the year. If we had another 9 comedy nights doing the same we would raise £2000. All with very little effort.

If anyone could help us with some decent raffle prizes, or even any raffle prizes, please email me at

The QimP Team!
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Re: Some thoughts.

Postby nicola.bolsover » 27 Sep 2010, 21:14

I also meant to say I would be happy to help in the organisation of the Free Fringe. My skills would be particularly suited to organising the actual scheduling of the festival.
What I think would work as a system, is that each show is approved by PBH and given a grade from 1-5 depending on which kind of slot he thinks it should have. So a Grade 1 show is one with experienced Free Fringe performers with well-known names, who will be sure to fill a room everyday; and a Grade 5 show is one with newcomers doing their first festival. Each slot would also need to be graded, depending on location and time. Then the graded shows could be passed on to someone who could put the shows into suitable slots.
Obviously this is just a suggestion, and would need serious refinement, but I do think something along these lines could work quite well, and I'd be very happy to help out!
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Re: Some thoughts.

Postby Richard Tyrone Jones » 28 Sep 2010, 14:19

Gareth's suggestion: "Secondly, we need to create more ways in which free fringers can help fund raise. I think the best way to do this is to run several 'best of the free fringe' shows during the festival. These would be compilation shows of perhaps 3 acts and a compere, with all bucket contributions going directly to the free fringe's funds. If there were, say, 2 shows (7pm and 9pm say) both at venues with 100+ capacity, and the shows there advertised widely (perhaps they could be advertised in the free fringe programme) then you'd get large audiences, and the compere would be able to sell the fact that the collection goes to fund the free fringe. Those shows could bring in a substantial amount of money."

When you put it like that, I find it difficult to believe we're not doing it already!!
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Re: Some thoughts.

Postby MrSeanBrightman » 05 Oct 2010, 11:16

Mr. Morinan. You have hit a certain nail on square on the head there with your second idea! Brilliant... I'd be proud to help with such an endeavor in any way I can ('Ahemcompere-cough-cough...').

James, love the idea of 'programme sponsorship too' – it's an idea that works, Richard Herring's or not... Maybe that's something we can do as an incentive to donate to the Free Fringe in general...

Opening up the advertising in the programme to free fringe members has as many problems as benefits, although the possibility to advertise something else members do shouldn't be discounted (whether a comedy club or another kind of company).

I really think the idea of a small charge per listing in the brochure should also be looked into. The main fringe brochure obviously levies a huge charge per show and I'm sure there are a great deal of expenses to cover in that organisation, including paying professional illustrators (and licensing), designers and all sorts. We have professional designers designing our collateral, but we happily give our time for free (not to mention all the others who worked so tirelessly getting everything together!), in the spirit of the Free Fringe being the 'cathedral of the spirit' as PBH put it so eloquently. I'm more than happy to continue to do so AND pay a small fee for my show, or hopefully, shows to appear in there. Although I wouldn't want this to turn the organisation into something else...
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