- Category: Porridge
- Published: Tuesday, 01 November 2022 11:34
- Written by Chantal Guevara
How I Spent My Summer...
(tl;dr: donation link is here: bit.ly/PorridgeFund)
I'd assumed that I'd sit out this year's Edinburgh Fringe, as virtually no friends, people I know or even people I'd heard of were planning to participate this year. And then I unexpectedly had a break between work from mid-July until early September, and it took off from there.
I had three things in mind when I started my project: firstly, the wonderful generosity of people in this part of Edinburgh; secondly, a good friend with absolutely no money when she'd received a last-minute invite for some Fringe work a few years ago, who needed somewhere decent to stay but had absolutely no money; and finally, Hell will freeze over before I get any flatmates. It's been over four and a half years now, and friends still remember the last one.
And, much as I've really enjoyed the artists I've worked with, I've always preferred industry-wide projects, plus campaigning against profiteering from freelance artists, among other themes of freelancing economics.
My Edinburgh Fringe artist support project was two-fold: sourcing, being offered and providing decent and affordable accommodation for Fringe artists and performers with a wide range of hosts. The rooms ranged from free of charge to £450/month, predominantly with hosts who did not do Airbnb or normally rent out their rooms. In addition, many of the hosts - including myself - moved into their living rooms so that they could offer their bedrooms and spare rooms to Fringe artists. The hosts were not in it for the money: they chose to take in artists to do what they could to make the Fringe a little more sustainable and a bit less extortionate for them.
Over the duration of the project, working by myself, I worked with 145 people to arrange accommodation for 187 artists across around 50 rooms, suites and beds. I also had 13 artists of my own to prepare for and host, otherwise I'd have had more time!
Edinburgh Fringe is extortionate and exploitative and is mass-scale profiteering; it's been that way for many years, and it'll stay that way because that's what it is and that's how it works. In early 2018, I'd gone to the pub one evening with some friends during the large Devoted & Disgruntled event - having rushed off to catch some friends' performances at Rambert before returning to the pub - and around the table, each person reeled off how much money they'd lost during an Edinburgh Fringe run. While most artists can typically lose around £5000 per Fringe, only a special few make it into the £40k+ loss category.
What was different about this year's Fringe - and presumably why so few friends were taking part this year - is that the financial buffer which many artists would normally have had, or even just a wee wriggle room, had been completely obliterated during the pandemic, so even thinking about participating would have been financially impossible, considering all of their struggles to try to just stay afloat these past few years. There should have been a moratorium on extortion and profiteering this year.
The second strand of my project was to build up a fund in order to offer hardship bursaries to Fringe artists in financial distress. Following the Dutch bread fund model, I've named it a Porridge Fund, hosted by Collctiv, and the sole purpose of the fund is to help offset the massive losses artists faced by being part of this year's Fringe. The application deadline is 30 October, with decisions due by 6 November.
I've had very little time to promote or raise donations for the fund these last few weeks due to a really intense project at work, so any donations would be so very appreciated. While everything to do with the applicants is strictly confidential, the applications so far are falling into three categories: helping to recoup some Fringe costs, helping with cost of living - considering that artists at any stage of their careers are expected to make do with earning below the National Minimum Wage - and also some future-proofing, either to help enable them to return to Edinburgh Fringe, or to be able to follow up on any of the leads they've been offered as a result of their run.
The link to the donation page is bit.ly/PorridgeFund.
The more money that is raised, the more artists I can support. I'd wanted to assemble a panel of assessors to help with determining how much to award to each artist, but I can't ask them to do that for free, and I can't spend any funds which should go to the bursaries instead - so it's just me, this time round. And after being mostly off social media for the last few years, at least I can be impartial as I have no idea who most of these people are.
Otherwise, if you're an artist seeking to apply for a bursary, the link is over here: bit.ly/PorridgeFundDetails
Many many thanks.