How to run a fringe festival

Jess Weiss, Press Officer for Brighton Fringe, talks to us about how to set up and run a fringe festival. 

How to run a fringe festival

So, you want to set up and run your own fringe festival? Fab! During May, Brighton Fringe welcomes international performers and audiences as it showcases the creative heart and soul of the city and its unique cultural heritage. This vast celebration of the weird, wild and wonderful has grown out of, and is inspired by, home-grown talent. more than 30% of events are put on by artistic companies based in Brighton & Hove. But how do you go about setting up and running a fringe festival like Brighton Fringe?

How to run a fringe festival - top tips from Brighton Fringe

  • Set your criteria - Firstly, think about the criteria of the fringe festival you want to run. Is it open access? Do you only have certain types of performance? Do people need to apply? Set some clear guidelines and stick to them. 
  • Decide on your dates – Make sure your dates are confirmed a long way in advance. It can take a while to get everything up and running with a fringe festival. Research what else is going on in your community at that time. Is there another festival or event that will either complement or conflict with what you have planned?
  • Start small – It’s better to have five well run and promoted events than 200 that are badly organised.
  • Work out who your supporters are – Who are the artists, venues and businesses who believe in your cause and will help make it happen?
  • How will you attract performers? Think about visiting other festivals or shouting about your event on social media. Where is the best place to reach the people who might want to perform at your fringe festival? 
  • Think about your ticket sales strategy - How will you sell tickets? Think about what kind of box office system will work for you. Is your festival small enough to take cash on the door, or do you need software and staff? You may be able to work with a local theatre to borrow their box office system. 
  • Get marketing! Think about your target audience and where to reach them in person and online. Make a list of all of the places you can reach them and the methods you'll use. Will it be leaflets and posters, emails or social media, or direct networking and taking at events?
  • Link up with other festivals – Why not come along to Brighton Fringe and say hello?! The World Fringe Network has a lot of useful resources about fringe festivals to help. 
  • Budget – Have a budget from the start of the project and make sure you don’t bankrupt yourself In pursuit of perfection. There are still funding options out there if you look hard enough, whether it's through a local community centre or Arts Council Grants for Arts funding. Remember, you'll need time to apply for funding! 
  • Evaluate – Once the festival has happened, look back over any data, press, positive comments as well as any constructive criticism and think about how to make next year bigger and better! You might want to use feedback forms to collect comments from audience members at the end of each event.

That's all our tips for now. Good luck, take your time and don't let anything hold you back! 


Nici West

Nici West Voice Team

Nici is the an editor for Voice. She loves all things books, theatre, music, art, visiting other countries, anything creative, and sometimes attempts to make YouTube videos. Alongside Voice she writes and edits through her own pursuits.You can occasionally find her running marathons dressed as a black dog.

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