Thursday, August 23, 2007

Impressive Line-up at Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Go on, you thought we were going to talk about actors and comedians, didn't you? To be fair, we are talking about some highly polished acts, widely coveted and well used to taking centre stage. But of course here on Winners Podium we are only really interested in awards and sponsors so we are focusing on the awards and trophies available at this year's Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

After three weeks of incredible energy, some 31,000 performances, over 2000 shows, 250 venues and over 1.5 million spectators, the Festival winds up this week with no fewer than 24 separate awards. Here, courtesy of the official Edinburgh Fringe Festival website, is a brief introduction to each award:

1. Fringe First Awards
These awards are for the best new writing on the Fringe, as decided by The Scotsman's glamorous team of critics. The awards were designed to encourage people to bring new work to Edinburgh in the spirit of adventure, creativity and experimentation.

2. The Carol Tambor Edinburgh to New York Award
The Carol Tambor Edinburgh to New York Award is an annual theatre event launched in 2004 that takes award-winning dramatic productions from the Fringe to New York City. The award aims to enable New York producers and promoters to see award-winning Fringe work and to give New Yorkers a taste of the mighty’ Festival Fringe.

3. The Bank of Scotland Herald Angels Awards
A series of awards from the wonderful folk at The Herald, The Herald Angels have been bestowed upon artists for 7 years. The journalists meet each week of the Festival to decide which acts, performers, producers, venues or artists deserve recognition for their achievements. In the case of outstanding or sustained excellence an Archangel is awarded. A final award - the Little Devil - is bestowed upon those who demonstrate 'a show must go on' attitude when disaster strikes.

4. If.comedy Awards
The Intelligent Finance Comedy Awards are the UK's premier comedy awards now in its 27th year. It is given for the most outstanding up-and-coming, funny, original, comedy show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The prize is £8,000 cash plus headlining The Intelligent Finance Comedy Award Shows in London's West End with the Intelligent Finance Comedy Award Shortlist. For full details, click here.

5. So You Think You're Funny?
Nineteen years old and still going strong, the So You Think You're Funny? competition is an Edinburgh tradition. Hosted by the Gilded Balloon venue and sponsored by Channel Five, Paramount Comedy and 4DVD, the competition sees 60 comedy newcomers battle it out over seven heats to reach the Grand Final - and then infamy.

6. The Stage Awards
When it comes to theatre, The Stage knows its stuff. Their awards are adjudicated by the newspaper's festival reviewing team, and aim to recognise outstanding work by individual actors (Best Actor & Actress categories), companies as a whole (Best Ensemble category) and solo show (Best Solo show).

7. Total Theatre Awards
The Total Theatre Awards, as you can imagine, are all about theatre. They aim to raise the profile of physical, visual and performance theatre. First presented in 1997 and now a well-established event the Total Theatre Awards are also sponsored by Central School of Speech and Drama and the University of Winchester.

8. The Tap Water Awards
The Tap Water Awards were born out of protest against the Perrier Awards connections to Nestle. Now that Perrier do not sponsor any awards, the Tap Waters Awards have stopped. If you're interested in why The Bongo Club originally launched the Tap Awards go to

9. Jack Tinker Spirit of the Fringe Award
Awarded in memory of Jack Tinker, a life long supporter of the Fringe, productions or performances are recognised for outstanding talent and creativity.

10. Amnesty International Big Issue Freedom of Expression Award
Amnesty International is expanding its Fringe Profile this year. The Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award is being re-launched as a joint venture with the Big Issue Scotland to help promote Amnesty's human rights message.

11. Allen Wright Award
The Allen Wright Award aims to encourage quality writing about the arts and is open to young journalists up to the age of 30. It recognises the contribution made by Allen Wright to the encouragement of young journalists in his 30 years as Arts Editor at the Scotsman. He also set up the Fringe First Award Scheme.

12. Scottish Eco Prize for Creativity 2007
The Call for Entries for the Eco Prize for Creativity 2007 will be launched towards the end of May. This Scottish Prize is awarded for any creative work that positively and imaginatively inspires people to be environmentally friendly and adopt greener lifestyles. The creative work can be in any artistic form from across any of the cultural and creative industries. There are two prizes each of £1,000: one for emerging talent and one for established talent. The provisional closing date for entries is 31st July. For confirmation of the closing date and details on how to enter, go to the website.

13. The Zebra Awards
The Dupliquick Zebra Awards are awards to recognise the best in Fringe posters and flyers. The awards are decided by an independent panel of judges comprising of Edinburgh-based theatre promoters and graphic designers. To see the 2007 winner of the Zebra Awards click here.

14. The Spirit of the Fringe Awards
The Spirit of the Fringe Awards began in 1992 as the Grand Finale of Mervyn Stutter's Pick Of The Fringe, the only daily showcase of Fringe talent encompassing theatre, comedy, dance and music. The performers and companies chosen from this comprehensive coverage, are those who, along with their great talent, still embody the true Spirit of the Fringe.

15. Amused Moose Laugh Off 2007
From January Amused Moose watch 500 comics perform live at specially staged comedy shows across the UK and in Ireland, with the best 100 or so progressing through to heats, then quarterfinals, until 24 semi-finals battled it out for 8 places in the Fringe final. The awards are sponsored by the if.comeddies and in association with DVD producer 2entertain.
The final will be held on Saturday 25 August at the Bongo Club.

18. Arches Brick Award for Emergent Talent
The Arches Theatre in Glasgow is renowned for supporting developing and experimental theatre. The newly launched Arches Brick Award for Emergent Talent aims to recognise burgeoning theatrical talent from across the globe.

19. The MTM:UK Musical Theatre Matters Awards
Another new award, The MTM:UK Musical Theatre Matters Award will acknowledge the companies creating new and exciting musical theatre work and the individuals behind it.

20. The Current TV Comedy Award
Current TV announces its debut Current TV Comedy Award at this year's Fringe. The station, founded by Al Gore and Joel Hyatt is keen to showcase the best comedy talent the Fringe has to offer and reward the winner with three commissioned programmes for the channel.

21. The Edinburgh International Festival Award
The newly launched Edinburgh International Festival Award is collaborative award between the Edinburgh International Festival and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. It aims to offer a Fringe show the opportunity to perform at the 2008 Edinburgh International Festival.

22. Edinburgh Evening News Drama Award
Our friends at the Evening News have also launched a new award. The Edinburgh Evening News Drama Award will recognise local amateur talent in music, comedy and drama.

23. The National Student Drama Festival
The good people at the National Student Drama Festival have also launched a new award. Their award will offer a student show from the Fringe a one-week transfer to The Pleasance Theatre, Islington.

24. Three Weeks Editors Awards
The Three Weeks Editors meet on the last Friday in the Fringe and pick the ten things that excited them most about the Fringe. This means the awards could go to a person, a venue, an exhibition or a show.
This years winners will be announced on Sunday 26th August.

There are a couple of items of note from this list, perhaps most obviously the replacement of Perrier by Intelligent Finance as sponsor for the comedy award. This change took place last year (2006), so presumably by now people should be starting to get used to the new name? Yeah, that's what I thought too! After a 25 year association, during which time the 'Perriers' became the UK's leading comedy awards, it is not so much a question time before people will accept a new sponsor - it just won't happen. IF are going to have to work very hard, and very smart, to gain some benefit from this sponsorship. Second point to note, and it goes against Perrier, is that The Tap Water Awards are still being listed on the official website, even though they evapourated (sorry!) when Perrier pulled the plug (sorrier!) on their sponsorship last year. Presumably there are people at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (or even just in the Website production team) who are still sympathetic to the anti-Nestle campaign, but really it does not do anything to attract future sponsors to see anti-sponsor comments and links still posted a year after the original sponsor has withdrawn.