OK loves, here's some #edfringe19 truth about me & Drone. We came into the Fringe with the best possible start -- great tour reviews, Made in Scotland money, British Council support, a finished and fantastic show -- & I personally am still totally broken & struggling like hell.
Despite a decade of how to manage an arts career, I tried to hit the Fringe at a sprint from the start, & I hit the wall within a week. The brutal marketplace logic of the Fringe made me push & push, instead of pacing myself & looking after myself.
Audience responses are stunning, the industry support is fantastic, we've got high-profile programmers taking interest, but we can't catch a review, & apart from a couple of packed nights on the discount price, audiences are settling at the decent-but-not-brilliant 20-30 mark.
(Financially, by the way, because we're coming into this with good support, that means we won't lose money, my team will all get paid union rates for the run, and I probably won't.)
Plenty artists would murder for this situation. But what I'm trying to say here is, *even if you come into this with every possible advantage*, the Fringe is still set up to break you.
I've woken up at 4am every day this week wondering why we can't catch a review. I'm wargaming "But what if I'd written a different blurb?" when I'm trying to get to sleep. When I count the occupied seats at the curtain call, I'm counting whether or not I'll get paid.
Amid all this, the blessing is the art. I love this show, and the people I've made it with. I take an hour each night to do my face, stretch & sing, quietly getting ready, and I love every moment of giving the show to an audience. I can't sleep properly, but I protect that time.
How is any worker supposed to labour under these conditions? How is any artist supposed to make good art? When bosses talk about the "spirit of the Fringe", I want to spit in their face. This isn't an incubator, it's a pressure cooker.
This is an access issue and a labour issue. Why is the Fringe so white, so middle-class? It doesn't matter how many diversity schemes we run (always driven from below), the economic conditions push out the marginalised. Only a few of us can grab a handhold. The problem is money.
I've been doing #FringeMorningSelfie as some attempt to introduce realness alongside plugging and boosterism. To give some insight into the emotional rollercoaster and the physically shattering experience. To talk about the shitness. I don't know if that's getting across?
Fellow artists, fellow workers, loves: no doubt you've seen boosterist tweets of mine and felt envy and anger. Same, tbh! So what we've got to do is hold each other in our struggle and brokenness, and organise for something better. Solidarity <3
Some morning thoughts to add to this. First, thank you all for sharing, and I'm really glad it resonated with you. Dropping the front and admitting how hard it is is a first step to making something better. And it feels a lot better too.
Second, in case there's any doubt, I have an *amazing* team around me -- thanks to public funding, which again has put me in a stronger and more resilient position than most can hope for. The Drone team are really holding each other through this, and are great.
Third, props to every artist who's been sharing similar stuff. @deminandhra's blog on payday loans is a cracker. deminandhra.com/blog/2019/7/22… There's a company that posted their actual box office figures -- can't find the tweet now, but wow, thank you.
@deminandhra Folk like @BryonyKimmings & @ScotteeIsFat have been agitating about artist pay, including at the Fringe, for YEARS. (thebryonykimmings.tumblr.com/post/676609176…) I was posting my annual accounts regularly for years, & @AnatomyArts does open book accounts as a public service: anatomyarts.co.uk/open-book-acco…
@deminandhra @BryonyKimmings @ScotteeIsFat @AnatomyArts Fourth, folk are asking: "What can I do?" Here are some ideas:

1) Drop the front, admit you're struggling, ask for help. *Especially*, share with your fellow workers how much you get paid, or don't, or how much you're losing. There's nothing more radicalising than seeing that.
@deminandhra @BryonyKimmings @ScotteeIsFat @AnatomyArts 2) Organise. @FairFringe is fighting for workers' rights at the fringe, artists & venue staff both. We're allies in this. Learn your rights as workers at their dropin on Mon. aft. (facebook.com/watch/?v=34847…), & ask your venue to sign the #FairFringe charter. fairfringe.org/the-charter
@deminandhra @BryonyKimmings @ScotteeIsFat @AnatomyArts @FairFringe (3) Join a union. Fight for union rates on your projects. Unions need new modes of organising that artists can offer, but artists also need the long experience unions have of how to build a movement. We don't always have to start movements from scratch!

@deminandhra @BryonyKimmings @ScotteeIsFat @AnatomyArts @FairFringe (4) Consider how, in your life, you can build alternative ways of doing the arts. This will take collaboration: it's never a solo project. I can advise on setting up a workers' co-op arts company (I've co-founded two) if you like, but there are many models.
@deminandhra @BryonyKimmings @ScotteeIsFat @AnatomyArts @FairFringe The Fringe is broken in part because of landlordism in Edinburgh, but also because *all* of the arts is broken. Not everything can be fixed. Sometimes you have to build something new and better on the outside, refuse what's already there, so that new worlds can take root.
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