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The funder plans to invest up to £2.25 million in England-based performance artists “to build and strengthen international partnerships”.

Photo of Edinburgh Fringe
A 2010 Edinburgh Fringe show. Arts Council Englands wants to establish a showcase at the festival.

Festival Fringe Society (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Arts Council England (ACE) is seeking to “increase international exchange” through a new series of showcase events at Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

The funder will offer up to £750,000 per showcase to an organisation, or consortium of organisations, to deliver the event in at least one of three years, starting in 2021.

The successful contractor must select a diverse range of artists and companies, support them to present their work to “the right promoters”, and pay all parties appropriately, ACE says. 

International focus

The primary aims of this initiative are to increase collaboration between English and international artists and encourage new touring opportunities, ACE says.

The showcase will focus on theatre, dance and circus productions, giving them “a major opportunity” to ensure their work is seen on an international stage. The funding will be allocated through ACE’s National Lottery Project Grants. Funding through this programme is normally limited at £100,000, but this can be exceeded under a special category for projects considered to be nationally significant. 

ACE wants expressions of interest from organisations that have experience in international touring and can facilitate connections with international and national programmers that will last beyond the festival. The deadline to submit expressions of interest is October 31.

Deputy Chief Executive Simon Mellor says the agency must be “outward facing” and support organisations to “build and strengthen international partnerships”.

“Our ambition is for more of this country’s leading creative talent to be working across the world, and for the best of global talent to be delighting audiences in this country.”

Fringe Society Chief Executive Shona McCarthy added: “This opportunity for collaboration, co-production, co-commissioning, UK and global touring is vital to the sustainability of our sector.”

Other models

Despite contributing half of the productions in this year’s Fringe, England is trailing Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which already have established international showcases.

Arts Council Wales’ showcase, This is Wales, presented 11 shows by Welsh companies at the Fringe this year, while Made in Scotland supported 22 shows. The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has a dedicated international showcase fund, but this is not limited to performances at the Edinburgh Fringe.

The British Council has also held a biennial showcase at the Fringe since 1997, presenting a programme of work by 30 companies this year.

Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan says Edinburgh Fringe Festival is a “launch pad” for some of the UK’s best writers and performers: “I’m delighted with this new funding for the next generation of English talent”.