The Edinburgh Festival and its mighty sprawling Fringe is the corner-stone of many people’s year: performers, technicians , promoters, publicists, venue managers, students, punters,agents and the good burghers of this wonderful city – the world’s capital of culture, artistic endeavour and lager consumption every August since its founding in 1947 to “provide a platform for the flowering of the human spirit”. There were eight fringe events mounted by uninvited theatre groups at this first outing and this spirit of anarchic creative enterprise has flourished ever since, creating the world’s largest arts festival by some distance in the process.
This spirit is being severely tested across a world being virally ravaged and inevitably, but no less sadly, the Festival 2020 has been reluctantly suspended, effectively cancelled, along with all the other great British annual celebrations such as Glastonbury, Wimbledon and countless others. This is clearly the correct decision but it does not make it a less painful one for all participants who were working towards making 2020 the Best Ever, in the Olympian tradition.
PBJ Management has always embraced every aspect of the Fringe with relish: helping talented clients prepare their shows; working with entrepreneurial venue directors, from the early day of the Pleasance with client Christopher Richardson, with Bill Burdett Coutts at the Assembly Rooms , with Karen Koren at the Gilded Balloon and with many other brave, committed folk; supporting the productions with PR ,street teams, producers, directors, technicians -caring and carousing throughout – all with an agenda of helping to get our talented clients appreciated by as wide an audience as possible. Securing ten main prize winners (Perrier and its successors) and five best newcomers from our client-list over the years says it all. PBJ has the best artist list in the UK and the best support team to help them realise dreams.
Sadly the wonderful clients planning shows for the 2020 Edinburgh vintage have been derailed and we offer every sympathy to them and the individuals helping them head north in the summer. Your time will come again but this does not count for much at this stage. It is important that we assist you keeping the creative flames alight and work out ways of getting shows completed and seen when the world returns to a more normal mode. We must also support the wonderful venue partners we work with year in year out as they grapple with the huge logistical and financial challenges facing their often charitable enterprises. We will be there for you all, including the Fringe Society which oversees this magnificent event with such efficiency and aplomb.
I first visited the Fringe as a grown -up (of sorts) in 1976 with the Edinburgh Footlights, in a show featuring Nick Hytner and Jimmy Mulville , directed originally by Douglas Adams and cut down from its four hour original running time to an hour by Griff Rhys Jones. It was pretty damn good but not as good as the show that followed us in St Mary’s Hall- a revue featuring students Rowan Atkinson and Richard Curtis. This Edinburgh outing, where I also met Geoffrey Perkins working for BBC Radio, proved to be transformational for my future life. I ditched the law, grabbed onto the coat-tails of these amazing young performers and carved out a life in show-biz. How lucky I was to be there and I have attended every Festival since, until this year it would seem. I will miss it but I imagine not as much as those people at PBJ putting shows together as performers or as part of PBJ Live and the agency. I wish you all every sympathy and assure you that we will work hard to realise your creative dreams in these turbulent times when isolation ends. The Edinburgh Festivals in all their many guises represent the antithesis of individualism and isolationism – it is a vast, wonderful creative feast made possible by a huge collective spirit. It will be back, as you all will be. I raise a glass to you all.
A message from Peter Bennett- Jones & the sad cancellation of this years Edinburgh Festival.
3rd April 2020|Rowan Atkinson