Print still key for Edinburgh Fringe despite volume reduction

Print “still has an important role to play” in the promotion of the Edinburgh Fringe according to the festival’s Fringe Society, despite its ongoing drive to reduce the volume of printed material produced for the event.

The organisation, which supports the running of the world’s largest arts festival in the Scottish capital, said its use of print has been impacted by one of the eight key commitments that form part of the ‘Fringe Blueprint’. This aims “to reduce the festival’s carbon footprint and champion initiatives that limit our impact on the environment”.

Olly Davies, head of marketing and development for the Fringe Society, said 80% of Fringe-goers say the printed Fringe programme is the “single most important decision-making tool” they use to select shows.

“[But] over time more and more customers are shifting to online channels – particularly our website and app – and this, combined with our commitment to reducing our impact on the environment, will see us reduce the volume of print we produce over the next few years,” he told PrintWeek.

345,000 copies of the Fringe programme were produced for this year’s festival, down from 390,000 in 2017. The programme is printed on 100% recycled stock and sourced from a paper mill in Germany, according to Davies.

He added: “We’ve made a commitment to reduce the volume of printed material produced by the Fringe Society by 35% by 2022, and have reduced the print run of the printed programme by 45,000 in the past two years.

“We’ve also shifted all our paid-for advertising to digital channels as part of our green commitments. That said, our audiences still tell us that certain types of print – particularly the programme – are important in making a decision on which shows to see, so we always try to strike a balance between on and offline channels.”

Davies said that while the vast majority of print work placed by the Fringe Society is with local suppliers, the Fringe programme is printed in Yorkshire by Pindar, part of the YM Groupbecause there are no web presses north of the border.

Outdoor advertising for the festival is managed by Edinburgh-based Out of Hand Scotland.

“Flyering and postering provide a cost-effective means for all artists – irrespective of their scale – to promote their show and reach new audiences,” said Davies.

“There’s nothing quite like the Royal Mile – with its row of poster towers crowded with images from hundreds of different artists – to get you in the mood for the Fringe.”

Edinburgh Fringe takes place every August, with this year’s festival set to conclude next Monday (26 August). See the current issue of PrintWeek for our latest feature on printing for festivals.