Refugees, asylum seekers, elderly and disabled people to get free Edinburgh Festival Fringe days out this summer

Thousands of refugees, asylum seekers, isolated elderly people, single parents and disabled people are set to get free days out at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this summer.

Organisers of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe have revealed they will be working with 32 charities as part of a project aimed “ breaking through the barriers” which have been found to prevent people based in the city from enjoying the world-famous event.

Vouchers for tickets for shows will be distributed across the city as the Fringe Days Out venture, which will also involve groups working with young people, ethnic minority communities and LGBTQIA+ people.

The project – which is backed by Edinburgh-based investment firm Baillie Gifford – is aimed at helping people who are unfamiliar with the city centre, or do not normally leave their immediate neighbourhood, to experience the Fringe.

Vouchers distributed to help pay for bus and tram journeys, while some funding is also available for taxis who people with additional needs.

An official announcement on this year’s Fringe Days Out programme, which will coincide with the 75th anniversary of the festival, states: “Our aim for this project is simple: to ensure that everyone involved has a good day out at the Fringe.

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"The success of the Fringe relies on Edinburgh and its residents, and we are committed to finding more ways for even more local people to engage with and enjoy the arts.

“We believe that everyone should have the opportunity to express themselves through creativity and experience the thrill of live performance, and that the Fringe is an incredible opportunity to do this.

Fringe Society chief executive Shona McCarthy. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

"No matter who you are or where you come from, everyone is welcome.”

The Fringe Days Out scheme was launched as a pilot project in 2017 to coincide with the festival’s 70th anniversary.

Groups previously involved have included the Citadel Youth Centre, Vintage Vibes, Multi Cultural Family Base, Dads Rock, Capability Scotland, The Broomhouse Hub, Sikh Sanjog, LGBT Youth Scotland, Gig Buddies, Pilmeny Youth, Lothian Autistic Society and WHALE Arts.

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A spokeswoman for the Fringe Society said: “The groups we work with are trusted partners in their communities who have built long-lasting relationships with their members.

The Fringe Days Out project will involve 32 groups and charities this year. Picture: Lesley Martin

"These relationships are crucial to the success of Fringe Days Out: by having open conversations with people they know and trust, participants can feel encouraged to take more risks in whether they choose to go and what they choose to see.

“These conversations also help the Fringe Society better understand what else they can do to open doors and enable communities to celebrate culture and creativity on their own terms.”

Fringe Society chief executive Shona McCarthy said: “This project started out as a modest thank you to people in Edinburgh for hosting the Fringe.

"We feel it only makes sense that Fringe Days Out should make the festival available to those who feel on the fringes of the city and the arts, no matter their background or circumstances.

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“This project is about breaking through the barriers that stand in the way of people and communities in Edinburgh engaging with the arts.

"And while there is undoubtedly more work to do in making the Fringe fully inclusive and accessible, I am proud of this step along the way.”

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