Simon here from Superbolt. I thought I’d write this blog post because some people may benefit from its content. This year’s Fringe is almost over so this might be too little too late, but hopefully its lessons can be referred to in the future.
Superbolt have done the Fringe 3 times now and on the past two occasions I have come back to London with exactly £0 in my bank account. Even if you’re one of the lucky few who might earn some money at the Fringe (I’m told they exist), chances are you won’t be seeing that money until several weeks, even months ,until after the festival is finished. I myself had booked a holiday to Paris a couple of weeks into September this year, so it was IMPERATIVE that I had some funds left over if I was to not spend it picking euros up off the street and stealing food from local bakers (Boulangers) and butchers (Bouchers). So here is what I did:
1. Start planning early
Most people know they’ll be going to the Fringe by at least April so I would say this is the time to start thinking about saving money. Book up loads of hours at work (when you’re not rehearsing) and start cutting down on trips to the bar and that restaurant you like (the one with the nice waiter/waitress who doesn’t know you exist).
2. Book work for September
Yes I know you’ll want a break, but what use is it if you can’t afford food? Book work for when you get back, preferably stuff that’s cash-in-hand or where you know the job pays quickly.
Avoid it. Not entirely, obviously, but when it comes to food stands and cafes it can get dangerous. Yes I know your company pass gets you money off but that doesn’t mean that making your own food will not work out cheaper. It will. Every. Single. Time. Yes it’s a hassle and going ALL the way back to your flat is annoying so maybe invest in Tupperware that you can carry a cheeky sandwich in for lunch or dinner. Like your Mum used to do at school. Or make a big load of pasta that you can reheat in the microwave.
4. Get a microwave.
Avoid it. Nah just kidding. It’s the Fringe and of course you’ll want to go out. Not only is it fun but it’s actually quite important in terms of meeting new people and forming connections. If you know your pass gets you cheap drinks somewhere then try to hang around those places if you’re going to go out. It might mean that you don’t get a big change of scenery throughout the festival but who are you Michael Palin? Suck it up. Also, you don’t HAVE to drink alcohol. This is actually a myth. You are allowed to go to bars and just drink soft drinks, juice, all manner of non-alcoholic drinks really. They’re cheaper and they don’t give you a hangover!
This is a tricky one. Obviously you want to see the most while you’re up here but £9 – 13
on shows every day really adds up. Here’s my advice: In terms of paying for shows, talk to people, especially people who you know and trust and who know what shows you’ll like. That way when you do cough up your hard earned equity minimum pay cheque it will be well spent. This might mean waiting until half way through the festival. In terms of company passes, use them AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE! Every venue has a huge amount going for it and you never know when taking a risk will pay off. Even if you don’t end up loving the show, you didn’t pay for it and that company got an extra audience member. Win win! Unless you walk out half way through. Please don’t do that. It’s an hour of your life, come on.
Okay getting serious now. The festival is a HELL of a lot of fun but if you’re trying to save money then remember, you’re here to work. Don’t grab that ice-cream, don’t eat in the restaurant just because you’re standing right next to it, don’t stay out until 3am just because everyone else is. Maybe stay at home one night and watch a film with friends? Or write a blog post by yourself in a dirty living room where you’re pretty sure you just heard a mouse run behind your sofa… Essentially what I’m trying to say is, recognise the urge to spend money before you fulfil it. Resist the urge. Reward yourself mentally for resisting. And of course: treasure the moments when you do end up spending money. There is nowhere on earth like Edinburgh during the festival, it is completely unique. So be there. When you’re watching that show that’s changing the way you think about theatre, or changing your world view, or changing you as a person, make sure to take a moment to congratulate yourself. You found something special and it’s unique to you in a way only live work can be.
I hope you find these tips useful! Have a fun and frugal Fringe!!