There are so many amazing reasons to work at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival!
Firstly, visiting the Edinburgh Fringe Festival at some point in your life is an absolute must. It’s a ‘Bucket List’ experience like no other. Every August for the entire month, comedy acts, theatre productions, dance troops and more from around the world flock to the Scottish capital. The city comes alive with creativity and culture.
Secondly, Edinburgh is one of the best cities in the ENTIRE WORLD. Honestly, take it from me. You would be privileged to spend an entire month living there. The bars, restaurants, nightlife and attractions in Edinburgh are second to none and you’d be so pleased to have the time to sample them all.
And finally, earning money, gaining experience and making friends! It’s especially a great way for University students or young people to earn some money and have an amazing summer in Edinburgh while meeting similar, like-minded people.
So, what are you waiting for? Here are my tips to work at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
How to work at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival
I found work at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2013. I was a Drama Undergrad and desperately wanted to visit Scotland and gain some valuable, relevant experience over the summer. Some of my friends performed in or were part of the crew for a play at the Fringe. That was great for them, they wanted experience actually being a part of a production. Whereas I wanted to gain valuable experience at a venue, at no cost to me, and experience the magic of the Fringe.
I just happened to stumble across the Facebook page of a girl in the year above me at University. Her employment listed ‘Box Office at C venues in Edinburgh.’ Upon further investigation, I saw this was a company in Edinburgh who ran theatres and performance spaces during the fringe festival. After a phone interview, I was on their Box Office team! And after an in-face interview, I managed to work my way into being the Admin & Operations Assistant.
It was a really valuable experience and essential to me getting my first job out of University. All junior positions at C venues were semi-volunteer positions with a fee of £200, but all accommodation was included. Granted, the accommodation provided by C venues (at least mine, anyway) was riddled with mice and after countless sleepless nights on a mattress on the floor, I left a couple of days early. But, I wouldn’t change the experience I had for anything because the positives greatly outweigh the negatives.
What opportunities are there to work at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival?
The performance venues/companies are going to be the main seasonal employers. I suppose some bars and clubs will have their demand increase but because venues have bars anyway, the type of work wouldn’t be any different.
In my experience, if you’re wanting seasonal work at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, these are the type of positions available at the venues:
- Bar Staff/Managers
- Front of House Staff/Supervisors
- Box Office Staff/Supervisors
- Duty & Site Managers
- Street Team/Supervisors
- Reception Staff
- Press and Marketing Office
- Client Services
- Technical Staff/Managers
- IT and Network Support
Experience is entirely subject to the positions available. However, due to the constantly changing requirements of Fringe life, if you’re hired as Bar Staff you could easily end up as a Bar Manager by the end of the month if you prove your worth and requirements of the bar change.
And, if you’ve shown interest in one role you could end up doing that job before long! It wasn’t until I arrived in Edinburgh that I got told I could have the job I originally wanted, and so many others chopped and changed throughout the month.
Obviously changing roles isn’t something you should count on, but it’s good to be aware that the Fringe is not a normal place to work. Plus, because it’s only a month long some people will definitely quit before the end.
Would I need to be available for the whole month of August?
It depends on your position but most likely! Most C venues staff, especially technical and office staff, were required from the middle of July. However, I wouldn’t worry too much about being needed for September. Packing up always takes much less time than getting everything sorted. And most contracts I’ve seen all finish on August 30th at the very latest.
Are the hours reasonable?
As you can expect, it will be all hands on deck! At C venues, during the ‘fit up’ period before the festival begins, expect to work almost every day. We didn’t have set hours, but we were working roughly 8am-8pm.
During the festival, surprisingly things do calm down. I personally worked either 8am-6pm, 10am-8pm or 2pm-12am with one day off per week. With other companies, the hours could be shorter but the days off will be fewer. Don’t let this put you off, though. Chances are you’ll go out after your shift with your new friends and make the most of the time you do have. You have a month, after all!
Is accommodation included?
Accommodation isn’t going to always be included, but I recommend you don’t take a job without it! Especially if you’ve left the job search late. Any cheap living quarters in Edinburgh during the Fringe are like gold dust. If you end up having to organise your own accommodation, be prepared to barely break even at the end of the month.
However, if you’ve secured a job early and know people you can rent with, it might turn out to be a sweet deal. It really depends. But, just know finding and organising accommodation in Edinburgh is going to be one of the biggest faffs of your life.
What’s the pay like?
If you do get your accommodation included with your work, be prepared for your pay slip to reflect this. Like I said, C venues gave every one of their seasonal ‘volunteer’ workers £200, no matter what their job was. The box office staff and the events coordinator all got paid the same.
Sometimes it seemed unreasonable and I definitely worked above and beyond my wage and accommodation benefits, but most times it was just a great opportunity. As a University student, I had minimal experience and the lack of pay meant I got a fantastic role I would have otherwise lost out to someone more qualified.
I’ve no idea what it’s like anywhere else, but that was the case for me. At other companies, it’s more likely you’ll be on hourly minimum wage and slightly higher for a supervisor role.
All the tickets for staff at C venues were free! You could only get the tickets just before the show started so you weren’t getting in the way of paying customers but it was still pretty dope. And you could have a plus one! Ding ding ding!
Drinks at all the C venues bars were discounted and certain drinks at certain times of day were stupidly cheap. Often we’d have theme nights especially for the staff and we were given two free drinks tickets per week. They were pretty good perks, actually!
From what I’ve seen, the benefits are really similar across the board. Especially when it comes to unlimited free tickets and drinks discounts.
Where would I find work at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival?
Ahh, this is the information you’re really looking for. This is a list of all the venue groups that I can think of. There are some smaller ones, but tbh you probably won’t find many positions available for out-of-towners so you’re best going with the big fellas.
I’ve linked through to their jobs pages so you can see what’s left this year (there’s actually quite a lot):
- C venues
- Zoo Venues
- Gilded Balloon
- The Space
- Just the Tonic
- Edinburgh Fringe Festival Official
Edinburgh Festivals Jobs seems like a good place to look for different types of work e.g. photography and kitchen staff.
Surely it’s too late to apply now, in July?
You’d think so, wouldn’t you? But lucky for you, that’s not the case at all!
As you might be able to tell from the web pages above, a lot of jobs for the 2017 fringe don’t have any closing dates. And that’s because so many companies still hire right up to the start of the Edinburgh Fringe and even during. I personally worked with new staff at C venues and we were still accepting people in the middle of August. Like I said before, requirements change constantly in such a hectic, short space of time.
Obviously, you get a better pick of jobs the earlier you apply. Summerhall seem to open applications for summer the November before! That’s crazy early. My advice would be to start looking around February and apply in April.
Have you ever worked a summer at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival? Got any tips? Let me know in the comments!
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