WHEN I was researching The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide, I expected to hear lots of horror stories about people going bankrupt and re-mortgaging their house as a result of the debts they accumulated by putting on a show on the Fringe. My evidence is purely anecdotal, but generally that wasn’t what I heard.
Yes, there are people who get their fingers burnt and are still paying off their overdraft five years later and, yes, as in the recent case of Remarkable Arts, it happens that a venue management runs into financial trouble leaving companies out of pocket. But on the whole, the message is that with a realistic budget you can break even.
How you draw up a realistic budget is the question. Today John Fleming has written a blog called How to finance a show at bottomless money pits like the Edinburgh Fringe which has a few tips on how to make ends meet.
If you have more to say about money and budgets, I’ve set up this page to do so: The money – your comments.
Balancing the books
APPARENTLY, IT makes the world go round. It also makes the Fringe go round, although nobody seems very sure where it all goes. Let’s just say you need quite a lot of it.
The message of this chapter in The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide, though, is that with careful budgeting and proper management of your expectations, you shouldn’t have to remortgage your house to pay for your show.
Those offering tips include producer Guy Masterson, comedian Ed Byrne, singer Martyn Jacques, Assembly’s William Burdett-Coutts, the Stand’s Tommy Sheppard, the Underbelly’s Charlie Wood, the Pleasance’s Anthony Alderson and producer James Seabright.
If you have comments about this chapter of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide, please add them below.
TODAY’S Scotsman reports that one of the ideas to find favour in the Edinburgh Festivals Ideas Challenge is a campsite on the Meadows for Fringe-goers. The idea would have to get approval – and apparently the neighbours aren’t keen – but it’s being taken seriously.
The article is here.
One thing to remember if you’re a performer, as The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide points out, is you might live to regret cutting corners on accommodation. Living in a tent may sound like a great way to balance your budget, but after performing for two weeks and a couple of heavy rain showers, will it seem such a bargain?
WHEN it comes to budgeting I have certain advantages.
- I live in Edinburgh, so don’t have to worry about rent (or no more than I do for the rest of the year).
- As a freelance journalist, I can continue to earn money from other sources, assuming I have the time (see Questions about me and my stamina).
- And, as I can buy copies of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide at trade price, I should be able to make some money selling books, in the same way that many Fringe companies make ends meet by selling CDs.
But I am also at a disadvantage in the nature of the show I have in mind. The only person I interviewed inThe Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guidewho claimed to make money on the Fringe was Martyn Jacques of the Tiger Lillies, but his band a) sell out, b) charge £15 a ticket and c) have merchandise to sell.
For The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide – Live, I’m not at all certain I can get away with charging any money and if I can, it will have to be a modest amount. I looked at prices for similar shows in Questions about the audience 1.
The advice of the experts in my book is to budget for 30% attendance – a long way from the Tiger Lillies’ 100% – and to aim to break even rather than make a profit. Any negotiation I have with venues will have to take this into account.