Hiya pals, Karen and Katy Koren here. We are the mother-daughter Artistic Directors of Gilded Balloon in Scotland and this year was to be our 35th Fringe. We are heartbroken that for the first time in its history our venues will be closed this August.
The temporary closure of our year-round comedy venue, the Gilded Balloon Basement, combined with the cancellation of the Fringe has hit us hard. The Gilded Balloon has been a platform for local and international talent for the past 35 years and we need your help to allow us to continue to support our artists, our staff and work positively towards Fringe 2021.
If you haven’t lived through a Festival, it is hard to explain how creative, joyous, busy and vital the month of August is. It has to be seen to be believed but sadly not this year. The loss of this year’s Fringe has left a huge hole not only in our lives but in the lives of thousands of performers, Fringe workers and other people who make Edinburgh their home for August.
We had 200 shows due to be part of our programme this year, in over 20 venues across the city, meaning countless performers and staff have lost income due to the cancellations. As an Edinburgh-based, family-run business, we rely on ticket sales to survive. We are passionate and determined to continue to provide a platform for new and emerging Scottish as well as international artists.
Where will my donation go?
Supporting our freelance Team GB
We have a small, year-round team based out of our offices in Leith but each year we also take on a team of passionate, skilled freelance workers, many of whom return year-on-year to be part of the GB family. Many of these workers have lost significant income through the Covid crisis and we want to do our best to support them during this challenging time. All of our positions are paid and we value our temporary contract staff as an integral part of Team GB.
Retro Fringe Programme in August 2020
The show must go on! This August we are excited to offer a virtual Fringe Venue with a programme of exciting new online shows, some iconic Fringe performances from our vaults, and a brand-new immersive Fringe themed treasure hunt across the city (socially distanced of course!) The majority of the events and shows in our Retro Fringe programme will be totally free to watch but any money we do raise will go straight back to supporting our continued investment in the Fringe and events across the rest of the year. The remainder will go to the performers who are taking part in the programme, many of whom have lost their livelihoods for the foreseeable future.
Bring on Fringe 2021!
We are looking optimistically towards the day when we can safely open our doors again for Fringe 2021, and we are working tirelessly to make sure we are in a position to do so. We are looking forward to welcoming back many of the performers who were scheduled to be part of this year's Fringe, and to continue to provide a platform for both local and international talent right at the centre of the world’s biggest arts festival.
Unfortunately, after months without income and the temporary closure of our year-round venue, we need support to allow us to work towards Fringe 2021. This money will be used to support us over the next few months and also be invested into supporting performers that may struggle to get to next year’s Fringe.
And supporting our local charity partner, Intercultural Youth Scotland:
It’s important to us at Gilded Balloon that we use our platform for positive change and to raise funds for those that need them just as much as we do. So we’ll also be donating part of the money raised to Intercultural Youth Scotland. IYS exists to make a positive impact on the lives of intercultural young people, providing direct engagement so they are included, embraced and fully integrated in society so they can have the power to shape cultural understanding, harmony and services.
Gilded Balloon fully supports the importance of the work that they do and hope to work more closely with them in the future, helping to provide more opportunities for intercultural young people when our venues and operation is back up and running again.
TESTIMONIALS FROM SOME OF OUR 2019 PERFORMERS
“Gilded Balloon made it so easy for a first time performer with their support & experience. I feel really lucky to have been able to work with them, I’d describe Gilded Balloon as an artist first company!”
“My favourite part was the staff who went above and beyond to help. They were friendly, informative and approachable which at times was a god send during tricky situations” “The staff felt like a family by the end”
“Gilded Balloon is beyond a doubt the friendliest of venues. Would highly recommend for an easy theatre experience”
A little history of the Gilded Balloon
Gilded Balloon is one of Scotland’s leading entertainment venues presenting an annual programme as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe as well as at our year-round home at the Gilded Balloon Basement on Rose Street. As one of the four largest venues at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the Gilded Balloon is respected internationally for presenting a stunning annual showcase of theatre, comedy and cabaret.
Our main venue hubs during the Fringe include the iconic Teviot Row House on Bristo Square hosting nine theatres, with the largest of our spaces the Debating Hall. Gilded Balloon have also found a home in the Auditorium in the National Museum of Scotland since 2015. We’ve loved hosting all types of shows in the fabulous 210 seater auditorium space as well as a unique comedy show we developed just for the space, Comedy Night at the Museum. In 2019, we took on Patter Hoose on Chambers Street with five theatres and our main bar space where many performers, staff and punters enjoyed a drink and a dance in the very wee hours each night (oh how we will miss it)!
Gilded Balloon is also notably renowned for producing its own in-house late night comedy line-up show, Late ‘N’ Live. Funny, outrageous and more than a bit sweary, Late ‘n’ Live is the last stand of proper, raw, live comedy – where anything can, and does happen because the audience are still very much in control. Many a household name has cut their teeth on the Late’n’Live stage, from Dylan Moran to Rhona Cameron, Tommy Tiernan to Peter Kay, Bill Bailey to Tim Minchin and the infamous Russell Brand; the list of comedy pedigree is endless.
The Gilded Balloon is also well known for the ‘So You Think You’re Funny?’ comedy competition which strives to discover new comic talent every year. It has now developed into the most influential competition of its kind in the UK, having just celebrated it’s 30th year. The pedigree of the competition is reflected in the list of past winners: Hannah Gadsby, Phil Kay, Aisling Bea, Lee Mack, Maisie Adam, Tommy Tiernan, Sarah Millican and Peter Kay.
More recently we’ve taken up residence at our new year-round venue, the Gilded Balloon Basement. We have loved putting on weekly comedy shows at the Basement as well as a weekly line-up of spoken word, theatre, music and cabaret in this intimate 120 seater space. Although the venue has only been open for two years, it has built up a reputation for a unique programme of performers and shows that has been a vital addition to the year-round Edinburgh arts scene.
Looking towards the future, we are dedicated to being able to welcome back our wider family to Gilded Balloon. We want to continue to be able to provide a platform for performers as well as providing a unique experience to our extended Team GB and our audiences across Scotland and further afield. But we can’t do it without your support.
With no guarantee of support from the Government or other bodies tasked with distributing vital emergency funds, we are asking anyone who is able to, to support us so we can continue to do what we love and in return, you'll be able to join us and enjoy our shows again as soon as possible!
Thank you pals x
Get in touch:
We would be happy to answer any questions, please feel free to get in touch with us at [email protected]