I’m part of the Network of Independent Critics: a canny initiative to send online reviewers to Edinburgh to produce specialist coverage.
>>> Donate here: igg.me/at/NICritics <<<
Confession time. Although I’ve been writing about theatre for nigh on five years now, I’ve have never been to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival: not even once as a general patron. Some have stated that I’m not a “real” critic until I have put myself through, what I’ve heard, the manic crucible of fringe theatre that is August in the Scottish capital. But, thanks to the Network of Independent Critics, it’s finally a feasibility.
It’s always something I’ve wanted to do, but never had the time, and most frustratingly, the funds to do so. When friends of mine have been forking out £25 per night for a camping pitch a mile outside of Edinburgh, it’s clear that for many critics like myself, unless you’re going with (and being paid by) a publication, covering the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is a big financial ask.
Thankfully, Laura Kressley and Katharine Kavanagh have created the Network of Independent Critics: an initiative to give critics who write for their own publication financial support for getting themselves to the Royal Mile for the UK’s biggest theatre melee. To do so, Kressley and Kavanagh are supporting critics, who have applied and been accepted onto the scheme, with one of the biggest costs: accommodation.
The whole reason this initiative has come about is that Kressley and Kavanagh believe that the financial undertaking needed to get the Edinburgh Fringe Festival means that coverage, of the smorgasbord of the arts that’s there at the time, is thin or completely overlooked. Therefore, Kressley and Kavanagh want to get websites and magazines run independently by individuals, the opportunity to get to Edinburgh in order to increase the spread and quality of show coverage.
Kavanagh explains the initiative in their own words in the crowdfunding launch video.
Flat Rate Flats
A number of flats with several rooms have already been booked and secured for the duration of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Then, critics who have applied and been accepted onto the programme will be allocated a room for one week (6 nights). At the moment, the cost of the self-catered accommodation that has been acquired stands at £168 per critic, per week. This week, the Network of Independent Critics have launched a crowdfunding initiative to reduce the cost of the accommodation for all critics.
Admittedly, £168 for a week is already quite a steal! So why give to the campaign if us critics are already getting quite a good deal? Well, the cost of getting to and being at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is still expensive. There’s the cost of travel, and then food and drink whilst there which is at a premium to what it would cost normally. Many of the critics are already taking annual leave from their full-time jobs to cover part of the festival, so there’s a hidden cost there, too. The amount raised by the crowdfunding initiative will then be evenly split across participants, making it easier and more viable for us to go.
The catch? Each critic is required to write coverage for a minimum of three shows per day: that’s 18 shows for the week.
If you’re unsure about why you should help me on my inaugural jaunt to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, then instead, think about all the other critics you’ll be assisting too
in spite of as well as myself. These aren’t just any old critics writing about any old shows, but a collective of reviewers with choice specialisations. I myself will be writing about LGBT theatre alongside Wales-based Steve Stratford. Other participants come from as far afield as Hong Kong, and specialise in areas such as circus, family theatre, and cabaret. A full list of participants and their specialisations and publications can be found below:
Amy Stutz (@) – Dance & Plays with Integrated Music
B. Victoria Durham (@) – Work from Minority Groups
Ben Walters (@) – Cabaret
Benjamin Huxley (@) – Poetry & Spoken Word
Beth Madeline Iredale (@) – Physical Theatre & Street Performance
Callum Moorin (@) – Stand-Up, Sketch, and Musical Comedy
Carl Woodword (@carl_woodward09) – Work by Young People
Charlotte O’Growney (@OddJazzShoes) – New Musical Theatre & Small Cast Shows
Eda Nacar (@) – BAME Talent and Classical Adaptations
Fergus Morgan (@) – Student & Low Budget
James Waygood (@) – LGBT
Joanna Trainor (@) – In Yer Face Theatre
Johnny Fox (@) – New Musical Theatre
Katherine Kavanagh (@) – Circus
Kirsty Alexander (@) – Children’s Theatre
Laura Kressley (@) – Shakespeare & New Writing
Lee Anderson (@LeeAnderson_88) – New Writing
Mary Nguyen (@) – Opera & Musical Theatre
Meaghan McGurgan (@mmcgurgan) – Work Not Usually Seen in Asia (for Hong Kong readership)
Michael Davis – Female-Led Performance
Natalie O’Donoghue (@) – Drag & Cabaret
Rosie Curtis (@) – Experimental
Steve Stratford (@) – LGBTQ
(please note, some changes and additions might occur)
Fee’s a Crowd
So, if you want to help independent critics provide broad and specialist coverage of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, then please donate at: igg.me/at/NICritics.