By this time of year, the weeks of work to build venues, lay artificial turf and install the colourful array of show posters would be building up to a frenzy, as our first shows of the 2020 Festival begin. There would be an unparalleled buzz as people gather in our home city for the largest arts and entertainment party in the world. Our small team of 12, which would have bloomed to nearly 900 individuals bringing it all together and supporting more than 1,000 performers and production staff.
Instead, all is quiet.
The impact of a lost summer is immense on the incredible and diverse range of people who rely on it to support their livelihood, whether they be artists, production staff or the small army that make up our front of house, box office and catering teams in addition to the countless suppliers that help us create this magical festival.
In order to survive this incredibly challenging time we’ve had to take on a considerable loan to get us through to 2021, but we need your help to support a number of extremely valuable causes and help us make a difference this August:
To achieve this we’ve set ourselves the challenge of raising £30,000 to help support those who need it most.
We know that the events of 2020 means there are endless causes asking for your support but if you’ve enjoyed the magic of Assembly Festival over the years we’d love you to help a generation of artists and backstage heroes who make the Fringe what it is.
There are a number of different ways you can help and we’ve gathered a selection of rewards as a wee thank you for any donation you’re able to give.
Assembly is the longest running of the multi-space curated venues at the Fringe and this August we would have been celebrating our 40th festival. This summer was set to be a celebration of the incredible range of artists, performers and production companies that have trod the boards with us over the past four decades.
We began back in 1981 when we took on the running of the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh’s New Town and have since spread our wings into 23 spaces across the city including some of the capital’s most iconic buildings and locations – Assembly Hall, the Assembly Rooms, Assembly Checkpoint, Assembly Roxy and George Square. This summer all these hubs will sit empty, waiting a further 12 months until they're once again transformed into the unique performance spaces we know and love. The gardens and their magical world of spiegeltents and food sit empty. Last August we welcomed an incredible 575,000 people through out doors. This summer there will be none.
Part of the Assembly family is our year-round spaces Assembly Roxy and Assembly Checkpoint. Both of these venues have been closed since the 17 March, suffering severe losses that really jeopardise the future of our being able to use it to support Edinburgh’s vibrant year-round performing arts scene. In 2019, the Roxy played host to 538 events. In 2020, that's set to be as little as 15. Your donations, as well as helping our team to survive, will help us ensure we can open our doors again when we’re allowed to do so.
75% of our fundraising target will support the creation of a dedicated freelance hardship fund which will be open to theatre and live event specialists who’ve been most impacted by the cancellation of events around the world. The fund will be open to applications from late-August and will take the form of tailored support grants for those who need it. The more we raise, the more individuals we can help.
The remaining donations will be used to drive the work of our sister charity, Assembly Theatre, which both powers our year-round space, Assembly Roxy, and supports artists and other talent to take advantage of the opportunities available on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. We take pride in investing in artists, and sharing their risk in bringing work to our favourite Festival, over the last two years, the value of this support represents far in excess of £400,000. Something again that is jeopardised by the impact of COVID-19.
As a thank you for your support we’d love to welcome you to our 40th anniversary festival in 2021 and have a wee selection of rewards to help make the return of the Fringe even more special.
Our small year-round team is based in Assembly Roxy in Edinburgh where we operate a unique selection of theatre and event spaces for the local community. Each summer our team grows from 12 to a family of 900 – including more than 200 freelance specialists – who work together to make the festival what it is.
With nearly 40 years of festival experience under our belt, we’ve welcomed thousands of arts professionals into our family and for many their first steps into the industry were made working with us.
Members of the team have gone on to play instrumental roles in the arts around the globe with team members playing leading roles the Melbourne International Festival, Auckland Festival, Perth Fringe, the New Vic, Live Nation, Off The Kerb to name just a few.
"This summer would have marked my 10th Fringe working with Assembly Festival in a freelance role for the festival season.
"I first worked at the Fringe back in 2011 while I was still studying at university in Toronto and it was the first time I’d travelled out of Canada for work. Assembly gave me the opportunity to learn and grow, initially as a venue technician, and over the years I have worked my way up to my current seasonal role as Head of Production.
"My initial experience led me to choose to work as a freelancer in the events and entertainment industry which allows me to have a lot variety in my career whilst acquiring new skills, experiences and friendships around the world.
"As the severity of the pandemic hit back in March I was busy building my team for this summer and with the cancellation of events around the world I had to tell all of them that there was little work for the foreseeable future. Like myself, everyone in these roles work events around the world on a self-employed basis and have fallen through the cracks of any support networks.
"Anything you can give will make an invaluable difference in supporting a generation working in the events and entertainment industry."
Our Assembly Theatre charity was born in 1985 and is the means by which the Assembly name has become world renowned and led to the creation of Assembly Festival. Founded by William Burdett-Coutts, Assembly Theatre has supported thousands of artists to tread the boards in Edinburgh and has been the starting point for many of the household names across comedy, theatre, dance and the performing arts you know and love today.
Our work today continues this legacy and focuses in a number of areas:
- Supporting the development of new work through resources, mentoring and genre specific expertise.
- Providing tailored support for artists who might not otherwise have been able to present their work in Edinburgh through travel, accommodation or other presentation bursaries.
- Ensuring Assembly Roxy and Assembly Checkpoint continue to develop infrastructure to be as accessible and welcoming to artists and audiences alike.
- Working closely with Assembly Festival to offer artists and companies in-kind or charitable discounts for available space in Festival venues.
- Offering advice and support for artists to learn the business of their craft, supporting learning and developing in topics such as marketing, budgeting and touring.
- Recognising that live art wouldn’t be possible without the brilliant technical experts behind the scenes and providing support for continuous skills development, mentorship, paid placements and upskilling courses.
If you would like to support Assembly Theatre directly you can get in touch with us at [email protected]
"I started working in Edinburgh 42 years ago. Before arriving in the city I had only a very vague notion of what this event was. Just out of university I was working with some friends on a production that was planned to perform at the Young Vic in September. The festival being just before this I was despatched to find out what this fabled event was all about.
"Arriving in the city you are instantly beguiled by the grandeur of the place, its awesome architecture, the magnificence of Edinburgh Castle and the stunning contrast between the Old Town and the Georgian New Town. The place is mesmeric. We put our show on and this started a relationship that has taken in most of my adult life. The city might have a natural magnetism, but it is the people that it draws in every August that makes it so special.
"The range of shows is beyond incredible and the impact they have on so many people is stunning. The joy of festival is that anything can happen and there is a strange alchemy that touches in a way that no other event in the world that I have seen has ever achieved. It doesn’t take a Faustian pact to be bewitched."
William Burdett-Coutts, Artistic Director and CEO – Assembly Festival
"2020 would have been my 18th Festival – I started as an usher at the Traverse Theatre and went on to work in pretty much every role possible across the Fringe, including being onstage whilst six months pregnant. Now General Manager for Assembly, I’m so proud to be part of a team that truly feels like a family.
"Our talented freelancers make their living working between us and the rest of the world’s festivals – COVID-19 has brought them all to a standstill - meaning so many of our family are without work. For 17 of my 18 years I’ve been a freelancer, and if I hadn’t been in this job, I too would have slipped through the cracks of government support. Many are considering leaving the industry, which puts this incredible festival in real jeopardy. We want to do our bit to help persuade them to stay."
Dani Rae, General Manager – Assembly Festival
For terms and conditions about the Crowdfunder rewards head to: https://www.assemblyfestival.com/blog/a-festival-of-fundraising-for-freelancers