March 20th 2020
The famous virus is producing an epidemic of statements from different organisations – are they antibodies? Who knows! Anyway, here’s ours.
For the last few days, things have been moving fast, and changing faster; so, please note, this is what we think at the moment. Newer information may change it at any time, though we promise to keep our online information up to date.
Fringes are complicated, yes, but they’re rarely fixed or final. The organisation is flexible (often because it’s minimal). This means that with big events declaring shut-down all around us – for all the good, obvious, and inevitable reasons – we can still talk about what we intend to do later this summer.
We have already done a great deal of the preparatory work for Fringe 2020, and nearly all of that can still stand. We are convinced that given the opportunity and a fair wind we could still run some sort of a Fringe on the established dates at a few weeks’ notice. The venues we work with – the critical organisations at this point – are currently closing, but also signalling that they will look at where we all are in around 6 weeks’ time, around the end of April, and we think that were the forecast sunny at that point, that would give enough time to bring some of the festival back out of its box, and have time to tell everyone who wants and needs to know about it.
It is of course more than likely that the end of April will suggest a longer period of reduced social activity, but by that point we should at least have more understanding of the timescales involved, and could start detailing a postponed festival for later in the summer or autumn (not clashing with too many other pre-existing or rearranged events).
Fringe artists are independent, which means that many of them will already be making their own plans – in those cases we shall be helping them with their own promotion for whatever reschedule they have done on their own account: you may get Fringe shows for the rest of the year as a result!
For those parts of the Fringe which have already been funded by Arts Council England or our other supporters, it is important that we get the chance to run the events at some point, both because they will cheer people up when we do and because our artists will need the work and other support (this is in tune with stated ACE policy): precarious freelance and independent incomes have been wiped out for the immediately foreseeable future, at a stroke, and in order for the next wave of independent arts to stay alive and working we have to produce what we can, when we can.
What we’re saying today is that we will make every effort to do that, for the 2020 season, when we can.