Reading Fringe Festival will return this summer in a new digital format after it received vital funding.
The Fringe will host a wide range of online events from 17th – 26th July after it was awarded emergency funding by Arts Council England. Last year’s Festival was the most successful yet, with ticket sales up 60% and 5,000 people attending over 100 events including art installations, children’s shows, comedy, film, music, theatre and much more. Longtime partner and fellow Reading arts organisation Jelly was also successful in its bid for funding to develop a programme of ‘at home’ residencies with artists.
Festival director Zsuzsi Lindsay said: “We are all about trying new things and making culture as accessible as possible, so we are really excited to be doing both this year with a digital Fringe. The health of our audience, artists and team is paramount so we are delighted that the Arts Council support allows us to continue to showcase local, national and international talent while respecting guidelines. We’ve prided ourselves on bringing top performances right to where people are, from an orchestra playing at the station to a puppet bus on Broad Street, so to have the chance to deliver a festival right into homes and personal devices is a real privilege.”
Two flagship commissions have been announced. International theatre and dance project Love, Sex & Zombies, led by Fiona Leonard who curated the Dusseldorf strand of last year’s Fringe, explores connection in a post-apocalyptic world. And the second is an interactive online story for children and adults from writer Helen Eastman, whose theatre credits include Bicycle Boy, In The Night Garden Live and Alby the Penguin Saves Christmas, in partnership with TimeTrap Escape Rooms.
Details of the programme will be announced next month but the plan is for around 30 events across the 10 days, with the majority to be available on a free or donations-only basis. Audience members who wish to support artists and the Fringe by donating, will be able to do so. Reading artists who have not already signed up to participate, are encouraged to apply to join the digital Fringe by contacting Sarah@readingfringefestival.co.uk for an event form. 100% of donations to an artist’s event will go directly to the artist.