Almost 2.7 million tickets were sold at Edinburgh Fringe on its 70th anniversary throughout August 2017, a record level of takings for the fifth year in a row. In addition, almost 700 free or non-ticketed events took place as part of the official Fringe programme which boasted 3,400 productions.
There was an increase of almost 9% on the previous year's ticket sales, with 1.5 million of the total raised by the core venues – Assembly, Gilded Balloon, Pleasance and Underbelly – while the smaller venues also echoed the rise in sales.
British Council's biennial Edinburgh Showcase, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, took place on 21–26 August 2017, and was also deemed a success. Welcoming over 200 delegates from 40 countries, it was an excellent opportunity to showcase fresh UK talent and productions to the world.
The programme encompassed love and tragedy, cabaret and hip hop, pop culture and global politics. Companies included renowned leaders in their fields like Traverse Theatre, Kneehigh and Forced Entertainment alongside newer artists who made waves at the Fringe including Selina Thompson exploring colonialism and slavery, Belfast’s Prime Cut Productions on gender issues and Touretteshero in a radical new Samuel Beckett production.
Once again, the British Council ran its Artist Development Programme, which introduces eight UK BAME and disabled artists to the Fringe and helps them to build international networks. It also partnered the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society’s Emerging Producers Development Programme. For artists not performing in Edinburgh, it held a Trade Fair with 30 established companies and invited eight younger artists to pitch new projects. And for a special celebration of the Showcase’s 20th birthday, it commissioned eight artists who are migrants from around the world to imagine a performance in Edinburgh in 20 years’ time for Imagine 2037.
“This year, Selina Thompson will definitely be taken up by many of the North American delegates,” states Steven Brett, Theatre and Dance Programme Manager at the British Council. “There’s strong interest in her from Push Festival, UCLA and High Performance Rodeo amongst others. They said the piece allowed Selina to deal with race in a very erudite way through her own personal experience, and it speaks to the situations and conversations happening in their own communities.”
“To experience the Edinburgh Festivals and the Edinburgh Showcase for the first time… is to join hands and play with dreams, with artists, producers, technicians, students,” says Cynthia Margareth, Director of FEVERESTIVAL International Festival of Theater in Brazil. “To be in Edinburgh during the festivals is to see the whole city become a festival stage… each corner is a new venue… and at every corner there is a new meeting!”