Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Edinburgh Fringe is back... but online

Pauline McLean

BBC Scotland Arts Correspondent

Signage from last year's Fringe is taken down
PA Media
Signage from last year's Fringe is taken down

The Edinburgh Fringe is to take place this summer – online. The world’s biggest arts festival was officially cancelled in April, along with the city’s other summer festivals, but the Fringe Society which oversees the event say they’re anxious to “keep the spirit of the fringe” alive with a number of alternative events.

They’ll include a round-the-clock showcase of online performances, a weekly virtual cabaret night and a weekly Fringe on a Friday livestream show. Ticket sales will support fringe artists and venues who want to bring shows to Edinburgh in 2021.

Despite complaints that the festival has become increasingly commercial and irrelevant to locals, almost a third of the tickets went to people resident in Edinburgh all year round. Fringe Society CEO Shona McCarthy described it as "the perfect combination of local and global".

She says the 2020 Digital Fringe will help support artists and audiences and keep the spirit of the Fringe alive until the festival returns in 2021.

The festival is open to anyone who wants to perform, whether amateur or professional, and the quality of shows varies accordingly. One of the Fringe events will be a 60 second showcase which gives artists a chance to perform a minute of a 60 minute show. Clips will be shown on a continuous loop so that audiences can dip in and out of Fringe shows at random.

Culture sector thanked for 'saving lives' by closing

Holyrood Live

BBC Parliaments

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop

Scotland's culture secretary has thanked the sector for responding so quickly when lockdown was introduced in March.

Acknowledging restrictions had been "devastating" for the culture sector, Fiona Hyslop said they "undoubtedly saved lives" in closing when they did.

"Almost overnight culture venues had to close. We were looking forward to our festivals, our theatres, our music. So much of Scotland's culture had to stop overnight and that demand collapsed completely," she said.

She committed to supporting individuals and organisations in responding to problems going forward at a virtual meeting with Holyrood's culture committee.