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Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society is the charity that underpins the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. It is the custodian of the Fringe’s core values of open access and freedom of expression.

The Fringe Society does not programme or curate the festival, but provides support, advice and encouragement to participants, assists audiences who come to Edinburgh by helping them navigate what’s on offer via the official Fringe Programme, website and app, and provides ticketing through a centralised box office.

Image credit; David Monteith-Hodge

The Fringe Society markets the Fringe in its entirety – locally, nationally and internationally – to participants, the public, media and arts industry to retain its position as the world’s leading arts festival.

The Fringe is the biggest arts marketplace on the planet. Every year, thousands of artists and companies perform at the festival – and for many, an important aspect of this is having their work professionally reviewed.

Reviews are valuable to artists, because they:

    • Serve as key marketing collateral
    • Help grow new audiences
    • Are widely used as credible testimonials for future industry opportunities

Reviews are also important to audiences because they can help with selection paralysis and give ticket-buyers some added knowledge and reassurance about their show choices.

The Challenge

With cuts to arts coverage across mainstream media outlets, the number of professional reviews at the Fringe are reducing every year. The format for reviews has also changed, with professional and amateur critics increasingly using blogging and social media platforms (e.g. Twitter) to review work.

Image credit: David Monteith-Hodge

The Fringe Society collects data on the number of known reviews published every year via an API and from accredited sources, but this no longer fully reflects the number of reviews across the festival, as not all reviewers accredit with the Fringe Society, and not all review tickets are processed through the Fringe Society’s Media Office.


The Fringe Society’s challenge is to create a new platform for capturing, collating and sharing as many Fringe reviews as possible from the multiple channels that amateur and professional critics are using. This platform must also provide the Fringe Society with a range of data insights including: 

  • Tracking how many times a review is read/watched and how often this converts to ticket purchases
  • Identifying key genres/styles of work covered by individual journalists and media outlets (e.g. comedy, theatre, cabaret)
  • Tracking how reviews are used by artists during and after the Fringe to support their professional development.

Finding a solution to this challenge would enable the Fringe Society to work more strategically with media outlets of all shapes and sizes, offering them advice on where to focus their resources, supporting them to grow audiences for their criticism, and sharing a greater understanding of the way artists and audiences use their reviews.

A successful solution will also enable the Fringe Society to improve artists’ experience at the Fringe by supporting their Marketing and PR campaigns in a more data-led way, providing insights into the reach of publications that support their style of work and quantifying the value of reviews for artists seeking further opportunities and development beyond the Fringe.

Through undertaking this project, the Fringe Society hopes to lay the groundwork for reversing the decline of Fringe reviews and gain a better understanding of the value of reviews to artists, audiences and the media.

Applications for this Challenge Project are now closed. If you have any questions please contact our team at creativeinformatics@ed.ac.uk.



If you are interested in responding to this challenge please contact the Creative Informatics team.

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