News: Phoebe Waller Bridge among Underbelly stars to offer rewards in new fundraising campaign to support artists

Today Underbelly has launched a fundraiser to support artists who were due to appear at Underbelly Fringe 2020. 100% of all donations received will go straight to artists from this year’s planned programme and who desperately need this help. By donating the cost of a ticket, £12, you can help artists bridge the loss of actual ticket sales they hoped to receive this year and by donating more you can make a massive difference and access a ladder of rewards.

For the first time in twenty years Underbelly has had to close its doors to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The purple cow is deflated, the Cowgate remains a carpark and the venues have been silenced of the laughter and awe of performers and audiences alike.

Each year artists, performers, producers, technicians, stage managers, lighting, sound and set designers, to name but a few, spend months carefully cultivating exciting, innovative, ground-breaking and daring work to be performed tirelessly for 25 days in a row.

Often this gruelling month of blood sweat and tears launches careers, shines light on new stars and shakes up the cultural world as we know it. For many of those working in this field the cancellation of the 2020 Edinburgh Festival Fringe and the restrictions placed around live performance will pose serious challenges financially and creatively and will no doubt force some to look elsewhere.

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is a place for everyone and everything, it’s important and necessary and it is vital we retain the artists that make it what it is.

220 Underbelly shows have been lost this year and countless numbers of artists and those working behind the scenes have been placed in dire financial situations, and that accounts for only a small percentage of the overall Fringe. Without their input into the creative world the cultural landscape for the future will change forever.

For those who can afford to donate a little more than the £12 cost of a ticket to the fundraiser there are lots of moo-vellous rewards on offer including a named thank you in the 2021 programme (£20 or more), Gold membership of Abattoir, the private artists bar in George Square (£50 or more), 10 tickets to the 10 hottest shows curated by the programming team (£70 or more), Backstage Meet and Greet with the artist of choice, tickets and fizz (£100 or more), Fleabag Poster from the first show performed in Edinburgh at Underbelly in 2013 signed by Phoebe Waller Bridge (£400 or more), Cocktail Party for 10 in Abattoir with mixologists Ed Bartlam and Charlie Wood (£400 or more), All expenses paid trip to Edinburgh for a Fringe weekend like no other (£800 or more), or for £1000 (or more) free tickets to any Underbelly shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for the next two years.

Ed Bartlam and Charlie Wood, directors of Underbelly said: “Edinburgh is where it all started, in a dingy cave, twenty years ago. It’s our life blood, our home, a place where genuinely anything can happen and incredible memories have been made. To not be there this year is heart-breakingly devastating but it is also a time for reflection and understanding that for this year, we must step back and put the safety of others first.

“We would love to support and help everyone but what we feel we should do at this time is to support those artists that were due to perform at the Underbelly this year. We are asking you to help us support these artists to get through this most difficult of all times and more importantly keep them working in an industry that needs and values them. Without them there is no Underbelly, there is no Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

“Our deepest sympathies go out to all of those have been affected by Covid 19 and our most heartfelt thank-yous to those on the frontline who have been working tirelessly to keep our country moving. We will be offering a special discount on all tickets to UK NHS staff at next year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe by way of thank you.”

Grace and Rach from Ugly Bucket said: “As a regional emerging theatre company, Fringe is a huge opportunity for our work to be seen on a huge international platform. Underbelly took the time to get to know us as a company, and understand how they can best support us and showcase our work. It is a bespoke, personal experience that is so valuable in a festival that can feel so intimidating! You would never find a techno filled clowning show about grief anywhere else but the Edinburgh Fringe.”

Jason Byrne added: “This is such a hard time for so many on the circuit, and the cancellation of the Fringe this year has been a massive blow to us all. This is a cracking fundraiser. Underbelly is making sure that 100% goes to the artists and there are some great rewards on offer. Who wouldn’t want to donate and secure all those tickets, backstage access and signed posters! Please do give what you can whether it is the price of a ticket, or a few pints too.”

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