Does your venue care about the same things as you?

THERE’S an interesting insight into how an Edinburgh Fringe venue manager may be thinking in this new post on the website of Eco-Congregation Scotland, a charity that helps churches act in an environmentally friendly way. 

A number of Fringe venues are church halls, although the churches often have little or no involvement in the actual programming. How such venues behave is the subject of the post, which points out that:

Congregations who act as venues are being encouraged to see their
letting as part of their ministry rather than purely a commercial

There are two things to be said about this. The first, as discussed in The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide, is that it’s easy to assume your choice of festival venue is purely a question of economics and logistics: how much does it cost and what do you get for your money? These are crucial questions, of course, but for many participants, so too is the question of a venue’s ethos. 

To use the example above, if your company has a strong religious conviction, it may prefer to rent a space in a venue that shares those beliefs than one that was indifferent or even hostile. The same is true in reverse: if you’re putting on a satanic comedy, you may get a frosty welcome in a church hall. 

But it’s not simply a question of religious belief. The Eco-Congregation blog goes on to talk about the audience as a “community” – and if that community is important to you (be it a community of physical-theatre fans, political thinkers, folk-music experts or whatever), then it will also be important to you to find a venue that has a similar sensibility. In such cases, the venue manager will be looking for performers who share their vision. The Fringe is more about love than money andyou could be just who they need.

The second observation about the Eco-Congregation blog is to do with the increasing awareness of environmental issues on the Fringe, indeed all of Edinburgh’s festivals. The question of theatre’s impact on the environment is one I wrote about here in the Guardian a few years ago and it remains a subject of concern for all the arts.

In her introduction to last week’s Annual Review 2011, Edinburgh Festival Fringe chief executive Kath Mainland praised a pilot scheme involving 20 Fringe venues reducing and recycling their waste. She said that towards the end of the 2011 Fringe, a recycling day resulted in venues and companies recycling “over two tonnes of paper”. You can expect to see more such initiatives in festivals to come.

I’ve included more about green initiatives on the Fringe, including material not in the book, on the venues page of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide website.

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