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Author: Mark Fisher

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CHAPTERS

The city and its festivals

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mark@theatreSCOTLAND.com

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Made in Scotland, Edinburgh Festival Fringe profile

Claire Cunningham in Ménage à Trois Pic: Kenny Mathieson
Published in Arts Professional
The mythology of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is all about the artists who arrived in the city as unknowns and left as international stars. It happened to Tom Stoppard in 1966, Stomp in 1991 and Ontroerend Goed in 2007. Only the other day, Laurie Sansom was saying how nobody noticed his Royal & Derngate production of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie until it played on the Fringe in 2009.
It is surprising, therefore, that Scottish performing companies have been slow to exploit the profile-raising potential of the world's largest arts festival. With notable exceptions, such as the Traverse which has built its reputation on its August programme, companies have been reluctant to take on the additional costs and competition of the Fringe. It did not help that the old Scottish Arts Council would not fund festival dates, but it was not the only reason.
We're encouraging people to think more seriously about the international potential of the work they make
All this changed dramatically five years ago with the arrival of ‘Made in Scotland’. A venture between the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, the Federation of Scottish Theatre and Creative Scotland, the scheme showcases more than a dozen dance and theatre companies and, this year for the first time, a similar number of bands and musicians. It is supported by the Scottish government's Edinburgh festivals expo fund, which is shared between the city's 12 main festivals to help maintain their ‘global competitive edge’ and encourage international touring. The fund totals £2m in 2013−14, of which £550,000 a year has been awarded to Made in Scotland.
"There's such a wonderful diverse mix of arts industry professionals here in Edinburgh in August,” says Kath Mainland, Chief Executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, which accredits nearly 900 professionals, a quarter of whom are from abroad. "Other countries have worked out how to make best advantage of those people and it's good that Scotland has done that too."
Anita Clark agrees. As Creative Scotland's Portfolio Manager for Festivals, Touring and Dance, she has been instrumental in shaping Made in Scotland over its first five years. "Pulling together a programme of work at the Fringe gives it more profile," she says. "A country can have a small presence at lots of different places across the world or pull that together and create a presence in Edinburgh. Because of the professional and media focus, they gain so much more by doing that."
The Made in Scotland programme is selected by a panel with expertise not only in the work itself but also in its likely appeal to audiences beyond Scotland. Among those adjudicating this year were Thom Dibdin, an Edinburgh theatre critic, and Mary Rose Lloyd, Artistic Director of the New Victory Theatre in New York. "The international panellists are really important because they are names other promoters will recognise," says Jon Morgan, Director of the Federation of Scottish Theatre. "It offsets that wonderful aspect of the Fringe which is its unpredictability."
As well as Made in Scotland's promotional work, companies benefit from the scheme's professional support. It provides workshops in networking and back-up when it comes to securing deals. "We're encouraging people to think more seriously about the international potential of the work they make," says Jon Morgan. "Helping companies, particularly newer ones, make the most of the Fringe, even down to how to approach someone in a room, is really important. This is not a guarantee, but it's certainly a good step up."
For musicians, the folk-based Showcase Scotland in Glasgow's Celtic Connections festival already generates £3m in bookings. Ian Smith, Portfolio Manager for Music and Intellectual Property at Creative Scotland, is not expecting Made in Scotland to generate that kind of money immediately, but he is excited about the potential to promote a broader range of musical styles to the directors of multi-artform festivals. "When you have people coming into your country to see your work, and it's of the highest quality, that's the first step to international export," he says. "And it's not one-way traffic. It's about 'You engage with us, we engage with you.' The Edinburgh Fringe is a great arts festival but it's also such an opportunity for our artists to be seen in a real international marketplace."
Following the Fringe, offers from venues and festivals around the world flooded in
The evidence of the first five years, and the 57 Made in Scotland beneficiaries, suggests that the scheme is working. Even companies that are not part of Made in Scotland are starting to look at the Fringe less as a short-term financial risk and more as a long-term opportunity for touring and collaboration. Talk to previous participants and the knock-on effects are clear. "It opened up a whole new market to us," says Paul Fitzpatrick, Producer of Catherine Wheels Theatre Company, which staged White in 2010 with the help of a £15,000 Made in Scotland award. "White got in front of artistic directors and leaders of organisations that wouldn’t normally find themselves sitting in a show for an early-years audience. It was a revelation for many of them. Following the Fringe, offers from venues and festivals around the world flooded in."
With help from Made in Scotland's onward touring fund, White was able to respond quickly in the knowledge that it could balance the budget on a technically complex show that plays to just 60 children. "Our tour to Australia and New Zealand was a great example of how a relatively small amount of money meant we were able to tour for five weeks making new relationships with new venues," says Paul Fitzpatrick. Since then, the show has clocked up over 500 performances in eight countries. It is fully booked until the end of 2014 and has been licensed to three different companies.
Scottish Dance Theatre tells a similar story. Its 2009 appearance in Made in Scotland led to two visits to Italy, followed by a reciprocal visit to Dundee by an Italian physical theatre expert. Subsequent shows in Made in Scotland helped establish relationships with the American Dance Festival and companies in India.
Performer Claire Cunningham, who is back with Ménage à Trois this year, toured to Germany, Poland, Italy and Ireland after her run in 2009. "As a result of appearing in these festivals, subsequent festivals and producers saw the work and invited us to perform the following year, meaning the work continued to tour to places such as the Sibiu Theatre Festival in Romania," she says.
Such stories have impressed the Scottish government, which is committed to continuing the scheme until at least 2015. "The Edinburgh festivals contribute more than £250m in additional tourism revenue to Scotland's economy," says Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs. "Investing in initiatives such as Made in Scotland not only makes economic sense but gives Scottish performers the opportunity to promote the country's rich culture, heritage and distinct identity on a world stage."
- See more at: http://www.artsprofessional.co.uk/magazine/266/article/exporting-arts#sthash.PBWYCzlS.dpuf

THE mythology of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is all about the artists who arrived in the city as unknowns and left as international stars. It happened to Tom Stoppard in 1966, Stomp in 1991 and Ontroerend Goed in 2007. Only the other day, Laurie Sansom was saying how nobody noticed his Royal & Derngate production of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie until it played on the Fringe in 2009. Call it coincidence, but Sansom is now the artistic director of the National Theatre of Scotland.

It's surprising, therefore, that Scottish performing companies have been slow to exploit the profile-raising potential of the world's largest arts festival. With notable exceptions, such as the Traverse which has built its reputation on its August programme, companies have been reluctant to take on the additional costs and competition of the Fringe. It didn't help that the old Scottish Arts Council would not fund festival dates, but it wasn't the only reason.

All this changed dramatically five years ago with the arrival of Made in Scotland. A venture between the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, the Federation of Scottish Theatre and Creative Scotland, the scheme showcases more than a dozen dance and theatre companies and, this year for the first time, a similar number of bands and musicians.

It is supported by the Scottish Government's Edinburgh festivals expo fund, which is shared between the city's 12 main festivals to help maintain their "global competitive edge" and encourage international touring. The fund totals £3.2m in 2012 and 2013, of which £550,000 a year goes to Made in Scotland.

"There's such a wonderful diverse mix of arts industry professionals here in Edinburgh in August," says Kath Mainland, chief executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, which accredits nearly 900 professionals, a quarter of whom are from abroad. "Other countries have worked out how to make best advantage of those people and it's good that Scotland has done that too."

Anita Clark agrees. As Creative Scotland's portfolio manager for festivals, touring and dance, she has been instrumental in shaping Made in Scotland over its first five years. "Pulling together a programme of work at the Fringe gives it more profile," she says. "A country can have a small presence at lots of different places across the world or pull that together and create a presence in Edinburgh. Because of the professional and media focus, they gain so much more by doing that."

The Made in Scotland programme is selected by a panel with expertise not only in the work itself but also in its likely appeal to audiences beyond Scotland. Among those adjudicating this year were Thom Dibdin, an Edinburgh theatre critic, and Mary Rose Lloyd, artistic director of the New Victory Theatre in New York. "The international panellists are really important because they're names other promoters will recognise," says Jon Morgan, director of the Federation of Scottish Theatre. "It offsets that wonderful aspect of the Fringe which is its unpredictability."

Mainland agrees: "The Made in Scotland programme has such substance to it now and it's become a thing that people trust."

As well as Made in Scotland's promotional work, companies benefit from the scheme's professional support. It provides workshops in networking and backup when it comes to securing deals. "We're encouraging people to think more seriously about the international potential of the work they make," says Morgan. "Helping companies, particularly newer ones, make the most of the Fringe, even down to how to approach someone in a room, is really important. This is not a guarantee, but it's certainly a good step up."

For musicians, the folk-based Showcase Scotland in Glasgow's Celtic Connections festival already generates £3m in bookings. Ian Smith, portfolio manager for music and IP at Creative Scotland, is not expecting Made in Scotland to generate that kind of money immediately, but he is excited about the potential to promote a broader range of musical styles to the directors of multi-artform festivals. "When you have people coming into your country to see your work, and it's of the highest quality, that's the first step to international export," he says. "And it's not one-way traffic. It's about, 'You engage with us, we engage with you.' The Edinburgh Fringe is a great arts festival but it's also such an opportunity for our artists to be seen in a real international market place."

The evidence of the first five years, and the 57 Made in Scotland beneficiaries, suggests the scheme is working. Even companies not part of Made in Scotland are starting to look at the Fringe less as a short-term financial risk and more as a long-term opportunity for touring and collaboration. Talk to previous participants and the knock-on effects are clear. "It opened up a whole new market to us," says Paul Fitzpatrick, producer of Catherine Wheels Theatre Company which staged White in 2010 with the help of a £15,000 Made in Scotland award. "White got in front of artistic directors and leaders of organisations that wouldn’t normally find themselves sitting in a show for an early-years audience. It was a revelation for many of them. Following the Fringe, offers from venues and festivals around the world flooded in. It was very exciting; it genuinely felt like the world was White’s oyster."

With help from Made in Scotland's onward touring fund, the company was able to respond quickly in the knowledge it could balance the budget on a technically complex show that plays to just 60 children. "Our tour to Australia and New Zealand was a great example of how a relatively small amount of money meant we were able to tour for five weeks making new relationships with new venues," says Fitzpatrick. Since then, the show has clocked up over 500 performances in eight countries. It is fully booked until the end of 2014 and has been licensed to three different companies.

Scottish Dance Theatre tells a similar story. Its 2009 appearance in Made in Scotland led to two visits to Italy, followed by a reciprocal visit to Dundee by an Italian physical theatre expert. Subsequent shows in Made in Scotland helped established relationships with the American Dance Festival and companies in India.

Performer Claire Cunningham, who is back with Ménage à Trois this year, toured to Germany, Poland, Italy and Ireland after her run in 2009. "As a result of appearing in these festivals, subsequent festivals and producers saw the work and invited us to perform the following year, meaning the work continued to tour to places such as the Sibiu Theatre Festival, Romania," she says.

Such stories have impressed the Scottish Government, which is committed to continuing the scheme until at least 2015. "The Edinburgh festivals contribute more than £250m in additional tourism revenue to Scotland's economy," says Fiona Hyslop, cabinet secretary for culture and external affairs. "Investing in initiatives such as Made in Scotland not only makes economic sense but gives Scottish performers the opportunity to promote the country's rich culture, heritage and distinct identity on a world stage."

Made in Scotland, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, 1–25 August, www.madeinscotlandshowcase.com
The mythology of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is all about the artists who arrived in the city as unknowns and left as international stars. It happened to Tom Stoppard in 1966, Stomp in 1991 and Ontroerend Goed in 2007. Only the other day, Laurie Sansom was saying how nobody noticed his Royal & Derngate production of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie until it played on the Fringe in 2009.
It is surprising, therefore, that Scottish performing companies have been slow to exploit the profile-raising potential of the world's largest arts festival. With notable exceptions, such as the Traverse which has built its reputation on its August programme, companies have been reluctant to take on the additional costs and competition of the Fringe. It did not help that the old Scottish Arts Council would not fund festival dates, but it was not the only reason.
We're encouraging people to think more seriously about the international potential of the work they make
All this changed dramatically five years ago with the arrival of ‘Made in Scotland’. A venture between the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, the Federation of Scottish Theatre and Creative Scotland, the scheme showcases more than a dozen dance and theatre companies and, this year for the first time, a similar number of bands and musicians. It is supported by the Scottish government's Edinburgh festivals expo fund, which is shared between the city's 12 main festivals to help maintain their ‘global competitive edge’ and encourage international touring. The fund totals £2m in 2013−14, of which £550,000 a year has been awarded to Made in Scotland.
"There's such a wonderful diverse mix of arts industry professionals here in Edinburgh in August,” says Kath Mainland, Chief Executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, which accredits nearly 900 professionals, a quarter of whom are from abroad. "Other countries have worked out how to make best advantage of those people and it's good that Scotland has done that too."
Anita Clark agrees. As Creative Scotland's Portfolio Manager for Festivals, Touring and Dance, she has been instrumental in shaping Made in Scotland over its first five years. "Pulling together a programme of work at the Fringe gives it more profile," she says. "A country can have a small presence at lots of different places across the world or pull that together and create a presence in Edinburgh. Because of the professional and media focus, they gain so much more by doing that."
The Made in Scotland programme is selected by a panel with expertise not only in the work itself but also in its likely appeal to audiences beyond Scotland. Among those adjudicating this year were Thom Dibdin, an Edinburgh theatre critic, and Mary Rose Lloyd, Artistic Director of the New Victory Theatre in New York. "The international panellists are really important because they are names other promoters will recognise," says Jon Morgan, Director of the Federation of Scottish Theatre. "It offsets that wonderful aspect of the Fringe which is its unpredictability."
As well as Made in Scotland's promotional work, companies benefit from the scheme's professional support. It provides workshops in networking and back-up when it comes to securing deals. "We're encouraging people to think more seriously about the international potential of the work they make," says Jon Morgan. "Helping companies, particularly newer ones, make the most of the Fringe, even down to how to approach someone in a room, is really important. This is not a guarantee, but it's certainly a good step up."
For musicians, the folk-based Showcase Scotland in Glasgow's Celtic Connections festival already generates £3m in bookings. Ian Smith, Portfolio Manager for Music and Intellectual Property at Creative Scotland, is not expecting Made in Scotland to generate that kind of money immediately, but he is excited about the potential to promote a broader range of musical styles to the directors of multi-artform festivals. "When you have people coming into your country to see your work, and it's of the highest quality, that's the first step to international export," he says. "And it's not one-way traffic. It's about 'You engage with us, we engage with you.' The Edinburgh Fringe is a great arts festival but it's also such an opportunity for our artists to be seen in a real international marketplace."
Following the Fringe, offers from venues and festivals around the world flooded in
The evidence of the first five years, and the 57 Made in Scotland beneficiaries, suggests that the scheme is working. Even companies that are not part of Made in Scotland are starting to look at the Fringe less as a short-term financial risk and more as a long-term opportunity for touring and collaboration. Talk to previous participants and the knock-on effects are clear. "It opened up a whole new market to us," says Paul Fitzpatrick, Producer of Catherine Wheels Theatre Company, which staged White in 2010 with the help of a £15,000 Made in Scotland award. "White got in front of artistic directors and leaders of organisations that wouldn’t normally find themselves sitting in a show for an early-years audience. It was a revelation for many of them. Following the Fringe, offers from venues and festivals around the world flooded in."
With help from Made in Scotland's onward touring fund, White was able to respond quickly in the knowledge that it could balance the budget on a technically complex show that plays to just 60 children. "Our tour to Australia and New Zealand was a great example of how a relatively small amount of money meant we were able to tour for five weeks making new relationships with new venues," says Paul Fitzpatrick. Since then, the show has clocked up over 500 performances in eight countries. It is fully booked until the end of 2014 and has been licensed to three different companies.
Scottish Dance Theatre tells a similar story. Its 2009 appearance in Made in Scotland led to two visits to Italy, followed by a reciprocal visit to Dundee by an Italian physical theatre expert. Subsequent shows in Made in Scotland helped establish relationships with the American Dance Festival and companies in India.
Performer Claire Cunningham, who is back with Ménage à Trois this year, toured to Germany, Poland, Italy and Ireland after her run in 2009. "As a result of appearing in these festivals, subsequent festivals and producers saw the work and invited us to perform the following year, meaning the work continued to tour to places such as the Sibiu Theatre Festival in Romania," she says.
Such stories have impressed the Scottish government, which is committed to continuing the scheme until at least 2015. "The Edinburgh festivals contribute more than £250m in additional tourism revenue to Scotland's economy," says Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs. "Investing in initiatives such as Made in Scotland not only makes economic sense but gives Scottish performers the opportunity to promote the country's rich culture, heritage and distinct identity on a world stage."
- See more at: http://www.artsprofessional.co.uk/magazine/266/article/exporting-arts#sthash.PBWYCzlS.dpuf
The mythology of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is all about the artists who arrived in the city as unknowns and left as international stars. It happened to Tom Stoppard in 1966, Stomp in 1991 and Ontroerend Goed in 2007. Only the other day, Laurie Sansom was saying how nobody noticed his Royal & Derngate production of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie until it played on the Fringe in 2009.
It is surprising, therefore, that Scottish performing companies have been slow to exploit the profile-raising potential of the world's largest arts festival. With notable exceptions, such as the Traverse which has built its reputation on its August programme, companies have been reluctant to take on the additional costs and competition of the Fringe. It did not help that the old Scottish Arts Council would not fund festival dates, but it was not the only reason.
We're encouraging people to think more seriously about the international potential of the work they make
All this changed dramatically five years ago with the arrival of ‘Made in Scotland’. A venture between the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, the Federation of Scottish Theatre and Creative Scotland, the scheme showcases more than a dozen dance and theatre companies and, this year for the first time, a similar number of bands and musicians. It is supported by the Scottish government's Edinburgh festivals expo fund, which is shared between the city's 12 main festivals to help maintain their ‘global competitive edge’ and encourage international touring. The fund totals £2m in 2013−14, of which £550,000 a year has been awarded to Made in Scotland.
"There's such a wonderful diverse mix of arts industry professionals here in Edinburgh in August,” says Kath Mainland, Chief Executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, which accredits nearly 900 professionals, a quarter of whom are from abroad. "Other countries have worked out how to make best advantage of those people and it's good that Scotland has done that too."
Anita Clark agrees. As Creative Scotland's Portfolio Manager for Festivals, Touring and Dance, she has been instrumental in shaping Made in Scotland over its first five years. "Pulling together a programme of work at the Fringe gives it more profile," she says. "A country can have a small presence at lots of different places across the world or pull that together and create a presence in Edinburgh. Because of the professional and media focus, they gain so much more by doing that."
The Made in Scotland programme is selected by a panel with expertise not only in the work itself but also in its likely appeal to audiences beyond Scotland. Among those adjudicating this year were Thom Dibdin, an Edinburgh theatre critic, and Mary Rose Lloyd, Artistic Director of the New Victory Theatre in New York. "The international panellists are really important because they are names other promoters will recognise," says Jon Morgan, Director of the Federation of Scottish Theatre. "It offsets that wonderful aspect of the Fringe which is its unpredictability."
As well as Made in Scotland's promotional work, companies benefit from the scheme's professional support. It provides workshops in networking and back-up when it comes to securing deals. "We're encouraging people to think more seriously about the international potential of the work they make," says Jon Morgan. "Helping companies, particularly newer ones, make the most of the Fringe, even down to how to approach someone in a room, is really important. This is not a guarantee, but it's certainly a good step up."
For musicians, the folk-based Showcase Scotland in Glasgow's Celtic Connections festival already generates £3m in bookings. Ian Smith, Portfolio Manager for Music and Intellectual Property at Creative Scotland, is not expecting Made in Scotland to generate that kind of money immediately, but he is excited about the potential to promote a broader range of musical styles to the directors of multi-artform festivals. "When you have people coming into your country to see your work, and it's of the highest quality, that's the first step to international export," he says. "And it's not one-way traffic. It's about 'You engage with us, we engage with you.' The Edinburgh Fringe is a great arts festival but it's also such an opportunity for our artists to be seen in a real international marketplace."
Following the Fringe, offers from venues and festivals around the world flooded in
The evidence of the first five years, and the 57 Made in Scotland beneficiaries, suggests that the scheme is working. Even companies that are not part of Made in Scotland are starting to look at the Fringe less as a short-term financial risk and more as a long-term opportunity for touring and collaboration. Talk to previous participants and the knock-on effects are clear. "It opened up a whole new market to us," says Paul Fitzpatrick, Producer of Catherine Wheels Theatre Company, which staged White in 2010 with the help of a £15,000 Made in Scotland award. "White got in front of artistic directors and leaders of organisations that wouldn’t normally find themselves sitting in a show for an early-years audience. It was a revelation for many of them. Following the Fringe, offers from venues and festivals around the world flooded in."
With help from Made in Scotland's onward touring fund, White was able to respond quickly in the knowledge that it could balance the budget on a technically complex show that plays to just 60 children. "Our tour to Australia and New Zealand was a great example of how a relatively small amount of money meant we were able to tour for five weeks making new relationships with new venues," says Paul Fitzpatrick. Since then, the show has clocked up over 500 performances in eight countries. It is fully booked until the end of 2014 and has been licensed to three different companies.
Scottish Dance Theatre tells a similar story. Its 2009 appearance in Made in Scotland led to two visits to Italy, followed by a reciprocal visit to Dundee by an Italian physical theatre expert. Subsequent shows in Made in Scotland helped establish relationships with the American Dance Festival and companies in India.
Performer Claire Cunningham, who is back with Ménage à Trois this year, toured to Germany, Poland, Italy and Ireland after her run in 2009. "As a result of appearing in these festivals, subsequent festivals and producers saw the work and invited us to perform the following year, meaning the work continued to tour to places such as the Sibiu Theatre Festival in Romania," she says.
Such stories have impressed the Scottish government, which is committed to continuing the scheme until at least 2015. "The Edinburgh festivals contribute more than £250m in additional tourism revenue to Scotland's economy," says Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs. "Investing in initiatives such as Made in Scotland not only makes economic sense but gives Scottish performers the opportunity to promote the country's rich culture, heritage and distinct identity on a world stage."
- See more at: http://www.artsprofessional.co.uk/magazine/266/article/exporting-arts#sthash.PBWYCzlS.dpuf
The mythology of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is all about the artists who arrived in the city as unknowns and left as international stars. It happened to Tom Stoppard in 1966, Stomp in 1991 and Ontroerend Goed in 2007. Only the other day, Laurie Sansom was saying how nobody noticed his Royal & Derngate production of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie until it played on the Fringe in 2009.
It is surprising, therefore, that Scottish performing companies have been slow to exploit the profile-raising potential of the world's largest arts festival. With notable exceptions, such as the Traverse which has built its reputation on its August programme, companies have been reluctant to take on the additional costs and competition of the Fringe. It did not help that the old Scottish Arts Council would not fund festival dates, but it was not the only reason.
We're encouraging people to think more seriously about the international potential of the work they make
All this changed dramatically five years ago with the arrival of ‘Made in Scotland’. A venture between the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, the Federation of Scottish Theatre and Creative Scotland, the scheme showcases more than a dozen dance and theatre companies and, this year for the first time, a similar number of bands and musicians. It is supported by the Scottish government's Edinburgh festivals expo fund, which is shared between the city's 12 main festivals to help maintain their ‘global competitive edge’ and encourage international touring. The fund totals £2m in 2013−14, of which £550,000 a year has been awarded to Made in Scotland.
"There's such a wonderful diverse mix of arts industry professionals here in Edinburgh in August,” says Kath Mainland, Chief Executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, which accredits nearly 900 professionals, a quarter of whom are from abroad. "Other countries have worked out how to make best advantage of those people and it's good that Scotland has done that too."
Anita Clark agrees. As Creative Scotland's Portfolio Manager for Festivals, Touring and Dance, she has been instrumental in shaping Made in Scotland over its first five years. "Pulling together a programme of work at the Fringe gives it more profile," she says. "A country can have a small presence at lots of different places across the world or pull that together and create a presence in Edinburgh. Because of the professional and media focus, they gain so much more by doing that."
The Made in Scotland programme is selected by a panel with expertise not only in the work itself but also in its likely appeal to audiences beyond Scotland. Among those adjudicating this year were Thom Dibdin, an Edinburgh theatre critic, and Mary Rose Lloyd, Artistic Director of the New Victory Theatre in New York. "The international panellists are really important because they are names other promoters will recognise," says Jon Morgan, Director of the Federation of Scottish Theatre. "It offsets that wonderful aspect of the Fringe which is its unpredictability."
As well as Made in Scotland's promotional work, companies benefit from the scheme's professional support. It provides workshops in networking and back-up when it comes to securing deals. "We're encouraging people to think more seriously about the international potential of the work they make," says Jon Morgan. "Helping companies, particularly newer ones, make the most of the Fringe, even down to how to approach someone in a room, is really important. This is not a guarantee, but it's certainly a good step up."
For musicians, the folk-based Showcase Scotland in Glasgow's Celtic Connections festival already generates £3m in bookings. Ian Smith, Portfolio Manager for Music and Intellectual Property at Creative Scotland, is not expecting Made in Scotland to generate that kind of money immediately, but he is excited about the potential to promote a broader range of musical styles to the directors of multi-artform festivals. "When you have people coming into your country to see your work, and it's of the highest quality, that's the first step to international export," he says. "And it's not one-way traffic. It's about 'You engage with us, we engage with you.' The Edinburgh Fringe is a great arts festival but it's also such an opportunity for our artists to be seen in a real international marketplace."
Following the Fringe, offers from venues and festivals around the world flooded in
The evidence of the first five years, and the 57 Made in Scotland beneficiaries, suggests that the scheme is working. Even companies that are not part of Made in Scotland are starting to look at the Fringe less as a short-term financial risk and more as a long-term opportunity for touring and collaboration. Talk to previous participants and the knock-on effects are clear. "It opened up a whole new market to us," says Paul Fitzpatrick, Producer of Catherine Wheels Theatre Company, which staged White in 2010 with the help of a £15,000 Made in Scotland award. "White got in front of artistic directors and leaders of organisations that wouldn’t normally find themselves sitting in a show for an early-years audience. It was a revelation for many of them. Following the Fringe, offers from venues and festivals around the world flooded in."
With help from Made in Scotland's onward touring fund, White was able to respond quickly in the knowledge that it could balance the budget on a technically complex show that plays to just 60 children. "Our tour to Australia and New Zealand was a great example of how a relatively small amount of money meant we were able to tour for five weeks making new relationships with new venues," says Paul Fitzpatrick. Since then, the show has clocked up over 500 performances in eight countries. It is fully booked until the end of 2014 and has been licensed to three different companies.
Scottish Dance Theatre tells a similar story. Its 2009 appearance in Made in Scotland led to two visits to Italy, followed by a reciprocal visit to Dundee by an Italian physical theatre expert. Subsequent shows in Made in Scotland helped establish relationships with the American Dance Festival and companies in India.
Performer Claire Cunningham, who is back with Ménage à Trois this year, toured to Germany, Poland, Italy and Ireland after her run in 2009. "As a result of appearing in these festivals, subsequent festivals and producers saw the work and invited us to perform the following year, meaning the work continued to tour to places such as the Sibiu Theatre Festival in Romania," she says.
Such stories have impressed the Scottish government, which is committed to continuing the scheme until at least 2015. "The Edinburgh festivals contribute more than £250m in additional tourism revenue to Scotland's economy," says Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs. "Investing in initiatives such as Made in Scotland not only makes economic sense but gives Scottish performers the opportunity to promote the country's rich culture, heritage and distinct identity on a world stage."
- See more at: http://www.artsprofessional.co.uk/magazine/266/article/exporting-arts#sthash.PBWYCzlS.dpuf
© Mark Fisher 2013
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Friday, February 15, 2013

Hook Hitch gets its Edinburgh Fringe priorities right



THE website of Guildford's Hook Hitch theatre company says its actors "grab their audiences and don't let go". 

That's not all: they also grab their copy of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide and don't let go. 

Here's the evidence (right), tweeted to me at @MarkFFisher only yesterday.

The company is bringing This Was the World and I Was King, a new play about childhood imagination, to Edinburgh. It takes inspiration from the poems of Robert Louis Stevenson as well as the girls who convinced the world that the Cottingley Fairies were real. 

One person taken in by the hoax was Arthur Conan Doyle who failed to show the scepticism of his most famous creation, Sherlock Holmes, in his willingness to believe in otherworldly creatures. That story inspired Peepolykus to create The Arthur Conan Doyle Appreciation Society, its recent Christmas show at Edinburgh's Traverse, as I wrote here.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A wild day on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with Phil Nichol

HERE'S an article I wrote for Scotland on Sunday in 2007, about a day spent trying to keep up with comedian Phil Nichol. If you've never been to the Edinburgh Fringe before, it'll give you a flavour of this round-the-clock festival. More from Phil Nichol in this podcast here.

I've won. It's 1.30am in the Pleasance Dome and Phil Nichol is telling me that he's going home to bed. There's still an inch of beer in my glass. Victory. If only by minutes, I have outlasted this one-man force of nature.

But my victory is a hollow one. All I have had to do is spend the day trailing the Canadian comedian, winner of last year's if.comedy award, and that has been exhausting enough. He, by contrast, has had to spend the whole day being Phil Nichol, performing in three shows, directing another. When he wakes up again for his 8am jog, he will have to do it all again.

The day starts 12 hours earlier at the up-turned purple cow known as the Udderbelly where Breaker Morant is playing. Starring Adam Hills and Brendan Burns, it’s a true-life courtroom drama about military abuses during the Boer War (shades of Abu Ghraib) and is directed by Nichol for his own Comedians Theatre Company. Bearded and dishevelled, Nichol shouts over to me from the bar as I arrive a few minutes late (already I'm failing to keep up with his pace). He apologises that he's not going to be able to sit with me, but he's trapped a nerve in his bottom and is going to have to stand in the lighting box during the show. It'd be great if I could get out of the theatre promptly at the end so he can make his appointment for a deep-tissue massage.

The play goes down well with the early-afternoon audience and, as the applause dies down, we hook up again and leg it over to the Pleasance Dome. Nichol never lets up, shouting greetings to Simon Amstell and Adam Bloom, explaining how he was locked out of his flat last night after using his keys as a prop and leaving them on stage, and how he didn't get any sleep because of the pain in his leg. We meet masseur Zeb Shaw who suggests Nichol lies on the floor behind a large cupboard in the performers' lounge. Salubrious it is not, but on Planet Nichol there is not much option.

"You’re getting none of the nice stuff," says Shaw as he sets to work. It's unlikely Nichol would appreciate it if he did. He's too busy texting to notice what Shaw is up to. "I don't have time to lose," he says. "I'm organising my next show."

With his eye on the clock, Shaw tells him to forget the phone and sit up for some stretching exercises. "I can tell you your obituary will be a heart attack," he says. "You work too hard."

"I'll no' die," quips Nichol adopting the accent of his Scottish mother. "I cannae afford the funeral."

And with that, he's back on his feet and we're racing across to West Regent Street to the Bonsai Japanese Bar and Bistro where Nichol is to be interviewed by fellow comedian Lucy Porter for a Guardian podcast. A small entourage of PR people and promoters is building when, by chance, the Breaker Morant cast shows up for a meal. Nichol holds forth, plugging his shows for the tape recorder, ordering large quantities of food (this man needs fuel) and bantering across the restaurant to Adam Hills and Brendan Burns as if they're in a comedy club.

But no time for digestion. Nichol has a play to star in. So it's over to the Pleasance Courtyard at a trot to catch up with Lizzie Roper, Tony Law and the rest of the cast of Killer Joe waiting in the changing room. The black comedy by Tracy Letts is another production by the Comedians Theatre Company, this time with Nichol starring. Appearing in his underwear like a live action Homer Simpson, he plays the father of a trailer-trash family who hire a contract killer to bump off his ex-wife. The seedy milieu explains Nichol's hirsute appearance.

The performance is delayed while the ushers ask a mother with a baby to leave for fear of disruption, which means after the curtain call Nichol is racing faster than ever. We whip through the Pleasance crowds to a waiting taxi and head across to the Stand, while Nichol tries to wipe off the stage blood from Killer Joe's climactic scene. We make the comedy club just in time for him to change and do a sound check (for Hiro Worship he's joined by a three-piece band) and before you know it, he's up on stage delivering a blistering comedy routine about the nature of celebrity and the time he befriended an obsessive Japanese Rolling Stones fan.

If this set was the only thing he'd done all day, you'd be blown away by his ferocious energy and breakneck verbal delivery. Those who saw the award-winning The Naked Racist last year, say this one is even better. His delivery was faster still at yesterday's gig, says one of his band mates.

Just time for a top-up massage from Shaw, who's shown up for the gig, before we're back in a taxi returning to the Pleasance to meet Tom Daley, Nichol's co-director on Breaker Morant. Pretty soon we're swept up by a bunch of comedians gathering for tonight's Old Rope, Nichol's nightly comedy club dedicated to new material: whenever a stand-up resorts to old gags, they have to grab hold of the noose that hangs over the stage. The press are not normally invited to the cult club, but I don’t mind telling you it's a great night with top performances from the likes of Richard Herring and Paul Foot – and, of course, Nichol as compère, only slightly the worse for a Jack Daniels or two.

Comedian Nick Doody tells me about the time Nichol ran the London marathon and still did a gig the same night. Everyone is in awe of his stamina, which is why I believe him when he suggests going to Spank, the early-hours comedy club, to do an impromptu set. But on a Monday night with a painful trapped nerve, it's too much even for him. All the same, he's still proposing we go for another drink as he limps off into the night.

© Mark Fisher, 2007 and 2013

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Hook Hitch Theatre gets its Edinburgh Fringe priorities right

AH YES, it's that time of year again when people start focusing on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and, importantly, get their bookshelves in order.

Previously, we've seen top-quality book-related pictures here:
http://edinburghfringesurvivalguide.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/the-art-of-skyers-words-and-women.html

and here: http://edinburghfringesurvivalguide.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/hooray-for-blitz-sisters.html
and here: http://edinburghfringesurvivalguide.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/babies-puppets-and-swimming-pools-read.html

Now it's the time of those wise people from Guildford's Hook Hitch Theatre who, as well as making their own shows, their own music and their own puppets, are starting their Fringe campaign as they mean to go on – with a mighty fine pile of books:



 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Cash for musicians to perform at the Fringe



The Scottish government has just sent out this press release, which will be of interest to musicians based in Scotland and thinking about performing on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Applications for support can be made from today via http://www.creativescotland.com/investment/madeinscotland2013:

Cash for musicians to perform at the Fringe

Funding scheme expanded to support music acts for the first time

The Scottish Government will expand its support for Scottish-based artists to perform at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this year, Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop announced today.

The annual Made in Scotland funding programme will receive a £100,000 boost and will be extended to support music acts in addition to theatre and dance in 2013.

The Cabinet Secretary was speaking from Creative Scotland in Edinburgh, where she met members of The Blueswater, whose 2012 Fringe performances earned the Edinburgh-based band a prestigious Mervyn Stutter Spirit of the Fringe Award.

She said:

“The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the world’s biggest arts festival, attracting visitors and artists from all over the globe to experience the cultural and creative talent it has to offer.

“It makes strong economic sense to ensure Scotland’s own exceptional talent is at the centre of the Fringe and our artists are given opportunities to benefit from the global exposure the festival brings. Through Made in Scotland – part of the Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund - the Scottish Government continues to demonstrate its commitment to doing exactly that.

“Since 2009 we have provided £1.6m through Made in Scotland to support 56 theatre and dance productions to perform at the Fringe and to embark on a range of international touring opportunities.

“Expanding the scope of the scheme to support musicians is a natural next step for Made in Scotland. For the successful applicants, it will provide access to fantastic support, expertise, training and advice, exposure to esteemed international promoters and funding towards performing at the 2013 Fringe.”

Kath M Mainland, Chief Executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, said:

“The Fringe is the world’s largest arts festival and provides a unique platform for artists to showcase their work to the public and arts industry from all over the world.  Made in Scotland ensures Scottish artists can take  full advantage of the significant international opportunity provided by the Fringe. Expanding the Made in Scotland programme to include music is a natural progression and one which sits very comfortably within the Fringe programme as a whole.

“The Scottish Government’s ongoing support for the Made In Scotland programme continues to be invaluable as a means for Scottish based artists to present their work both to audiences and promoters at the Fringe and it is fantastic that this support has made it possible for the Made in Scotland initiative to be extended this year to include musical genres for the first time.”

Caroline Parkinson, Director of Creative Development at Creative Scotland, said:

"I'd encourage musicians based in Scotland, ready to take the step onto the international platform provided by the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, to apply for this new support available through Made in Scotland. The tremendous successes enjoyed so far by artists working in theatre and dance who have been supported by the programme shows the potential opportunities now open to those working in music."

Felipe Schrieberg from The Blueswater, said:

“This kind of program is perfect for a group like us. We've worked hard to succeed at the Fringe with our show 'Blues!', and with potential access to this kind of funding we can work on putting together a more ambitious Fringe show.”

Monday, September 3, 2012

What I learnt about putting on a Fringe show

The Butlers serving Tattie Shaw's fruit
THE series of six chat shows I hosted during the 2012 Edinburgh Fringe could scarcely have been more simple. The format was straightforward: me and three or four guests sitting in front of an audience discussing the various challenges of putting on a Fringe show for an hour. I did not have to worry about building a set, remembering lines, keeping up company morale or sorting out accommodation.

Despite this, it was remarkable to realise how much time and energy the show took up. Here are some of the things I discovered:

The responsibility of doing your own show

It is not unusual for me to appear on stage in front of an audience. I am quite often asked to chair a post-show discussion or a Book Festival Q&A session. Indeed, during the 2012 Fringe, I chaired four interviews in the Pleasance Bytes series - in the same room and at the same time of day as my own show.

I found it fascinating to realise how different my attitude was to doing this kind of event compared with running my own. Although what the audience saw was essentially the same kind of thing, I felt very differently about it. When I'm a guest on someone else's show, I take it seriously and may even get a bit of an adrenaline buzz, but I don't lose sleep over it. I do what I've been asked to do, then move on.

With my own face on the flyer, however, something changed. This was my show and its success was my responsibility. If no one turned up, it would be me who had to apologise to the guests and me who had to worry about attracting a bigger audience next time. I was confident the show itself would work (more on that in a moment), but I was much more conscious of the pressure to make sure the whole thing went smoothly and that guests and audience were happy.

The time it takes

One consequence of this was the show took up a lot of mental energy. Particularly before the first two shows, I found it difficult to think about anything else. The various tasks I had to complete were not difficult in themselves, but it was important I got them done. That, coupled with the initial sense of uncertainty about how the event would go, meant this simple show occupied a disproportionate amount of brain power at a time when I was also trying to focus on my job as a reviewer. I didn't have to do any of the physical labour involved in many Fringe shows, but it was tiring just thinking about it.

In addition to these mental demands, the show took up a surprising amount of organisational time. The tasks were not onerous, but there were a lot of them. Things I had to do included: sending emails to the guests to remind them to turn up; watching the shows the guests were putting on; picking up fruit to give to the audience from my sponsor Tattie Shaw's; carrying the fruit, flyers and copies of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide to the venue; getting unsold books back home again after the event; sending emails to the guests to thank them for their time; promoting the show by flyering outside Fringe Central or on the High Street . . .

That was just for starters. Additionally, I had to talk to friends and family about how to improve the show; find replacements for two guests who had to pull out at the last minute; ask the Pleasance press office to circulate information about the line-up to other performers; send emails about the show to Fringe companies who had emailed me about their shows; use Twitter and Facebook to tell people about press coverage and forthcoming guests; do interviews with an American documentary maker, a blogger, a Times journalist and a festival radio station; appear on a panel at an event run by the World Fringe Congress . . .

Cumulatively, all these things meant I was thinking about the show almost constantly. If that is true for this, the most simple of shows - and just six performances - how much more must it be true for a major production doing a daily run? I managed to continue seeing shows and do a fair bit of writing (though less than normal), but it's easy to see how a bigger production would be all consuming.

The lesson: don't underestimate the time and effort it takes to put on a Fringe show. It's a lot more than the hour you are on stage.

The neediness of the performer

As a theatre critic and freelance writer, I'm used to being self-reliant and independent. It's the sort of job that appeals to the lone wolf. I was surprised, therefore, to find myself quite unabashed about encouraging people to come to the show. It was like I needed their support and validation. In August, Edinburgh is a city full of fragile egos, exposing themselves to public scrutiny. In my own small way, I guess I was one of them. If you are planning to perform on the Fringe, it pays to remember how exposed you may feel and to have strategies for coping with that.

My face on the flyer = pressure

Belief in your show

The core message of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide is you should understand your motivation for performing. If you are clear about your purpose, you are more likely to believe in your show. And believing in your show makes all the difference when dealing with everything the Fringe throws at you.

Having written the book, I knew this in theory, but it was great to see how true it was in practice. Call it self-delusion, call it hype, but I never doubted my show was essential viewing. That meant I went out flyering with an evangelical zeal. I surprised myself with my enthusiasm.

Meeting my target audience, I genuinely believed they would enjoy the show. It was no effort for me to speak persuasively about it, because I was saying what I honestly felt. It would have been so much harder if I thought I was selling them a dud. In those circumstances, to go out flyering at all would have taken special reserves of energy, let alone talk to people.

The experience reinforced the importance of doing a show you believe in, remembering why you are doing it and  maintaining your enthusiasm and morale throughout the three weeks.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The book was right: I have survived

THE last of my Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide: Live! shows was this morning and very well it went too. Had a great conversation with Camille O'Sullivan, Vicky Featherstone and Ben Harrison, and even did a bit of artistic matchmaking.

I hope to add some thoughts about the whole experience shortly - if you're impatient, you can read Philip Fisher's four-star comments about it in the British Theatre Guide or, indeed, my own in the Guardian. Or you can cut-out the middle man and take a listen to the podcasts here.

In the meantime here are my butlers whom I commissioned to serve Tattie Shaw's fruit for the middle two shows:


© Mark Fisher 2012. Powered by Blogger.

About Me

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I am an Edinburgh-based freelance journalist and critic specialising in theatre and the arts. My feature writing covers celebrity interviews, human interest stories, restaurant reviews, travel articles and opinion pieces, as well as theatre, music and art reviews. Publications I write for include The Guardian, Scotland on Sunday, the Sunday Times, The Herald and The Scotsman. I am the author of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide: how to make your show a success, published in February 2012. From 2000-2003, I was the editor of The List magazine, Glasgow and Edinburgh's arts and events guide. See my website for more information and comprehensive Scottish theatre links.

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