A ground-floor space in the shopping and leisure complex will be turned into the “Fringe Central” hub headquarters, which brings performers, companies, venues, arts industry workers and journalists together under the one roof at the festival.
As well as the pop-up HQ hosting the Fringe’s official programme of industry events, the St James Quarter will also have its own Spiegeltent venue for this year’s festival.
It will be shared by the BBC and promoters Just the Tonic, while acts appearing in the festival will get the chance to perform excerpts of their shows at a separate outdoor stage.
The new St James Quarter HQ has been revealed days after the Fringe Society revealed it had formed a new partnership with TikTok which will see the social media giant help run outdoor stages, host a “virtual stage” on the platform, unearth emerging talent at the festival and stage workshops on how to reach bigger audiences online.
TikTok will be involved in a pop-up stage for Fringe performers at Cathedral Square, while the Spiegeltent will be located in St James Square.Fringe Central has been relocated from its long-time home at Edinburgh University’s Appleton Tower building, near George Square.
Last week it emerged that the Fringe’s programme of free street theatre events would be expanding to St Andrew Square and the St James Quarter as part of a drive to ensure a better spread of crowds across the city centre.
A new map has been created to highlight an official walking route aimed at encouraging festivalgoers to wander from the Royal Mile to the St James Quarter via The Mound, East Princes Street Gardens, St Andrew Square and Multrees Walk, taking in free performances and shows on the way.The Fringe Society will be staging a three-week programme of Fringe Central events, talks and workshops offering advice on how to stage and promote shows, how to best navigate and make the most of the festival.
Fringe Society chief Shona McCarthy said the festival's new base would provide “a home from home for anyone who wants to learn more about the phenomenon that is the Fringe."
She added: “Our Fringe Central team will support artists in maximising their time at the Fringe, and our range of workshops, events and wellbeing initiatives will ensure they receive the right support, at every step of their Fringe journey.
"In addition, our media team will offer support to reviewers, critics, print and broadcast media, offering them a warm welcome to the Fringe in our 75th anniversary year.”
Nick Peel, managing director at the St James Quarter, said: “The St James Quarter is a welcoming lifestyle hub for art, culture and fashion and we’re passionate about supporting Edinburgh’s world-renowned cultural offering and its vibrant events calendar.
“We have a plethora of exciting events coming this summer and we’re delighted to be partnering with the Fringe Society to get the show on the road.”
Just the Tonic will be staging shows at the St James Quarter Spiegeltent when the venue is not being used by the BBC.
Founder Darrell Martin said: “We’re really pleased to be involved in this new project, which will help expand the reach of the Fringe.
“It is a pretty exciting opportunity to be working alongside the St James Quarter, the Fringe and the BBC.
“I really think we can put shows in front of people that might not normally consider going to them which, in itself, has to be a good thing after the two years we have all had.”
Roddy Smith, chief executive of city centre business group Essential Edinburgh, said: “The new Fringe Central will complement the significant Fringe presence throughout the New Town ensuring we have a thriving and vibrant area welcoming residents and visitors to our wonderful city centre.”