Making the most of the Fringe by Steve Gove
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do?
I’m Steve Gove, Founder and Director of Prague Fringe, originally from the North East of Scotland but have now lived in Prague since 1997 where I founded our Fringe now heading into it’s 17th year.
When did you first come to Edinburgh and how was that first experience?
I escaped from Aberdeen, where I’d been living for a decade, in 1996 with one plan… ‘go to the Fringe’. I applied for a job at Assembly where the George Street location became my Fringe home for the next 15 years. I was one of a team of venue managers ensuring the building ran smoothly and it was a lot of fun. Most of the acts that played in Wildman Room (now a shop sadly) are huge… Graham Norton, Russel Brand, the Little Britain guys… someone needs to put up a plaque! Down the line I was a Board Director of the Edinburgh Fringe Society.
What is different about the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and what do you expect from coming to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this year?
All Fringe roads lead to Edinburgh. It wouldn’t be right not to touch base with Mother Fringe each year. This will be my 22nd and I plan to keep coming back. Although Edinburgh is not the only Fringe I visit each year it’s a great place to meet the world, network, touch base with old friends and colleagues and get an injection of inspiration to take us forward into the next year. It’s fascinating to see how it continues to grow each year and Edinburgh is beautiful!
How do you plan your trip? How much space do you leave in your schedule?
The process starts as soon as the programme is out. I log in to the Fringe website and start marking ‘favourite’ shows – companies whose work I know, or shows at my favourite venues, shows I have been recommended. Once I have locked my dates in I start to build my schedule. I used to see 60 shows each Fringe (as well as being on my feet 8 hours a day on George Street) but I am more fussy (and less energetic) so 7 nights usually does me and 3 or 4 shows a day is enough to leave plenty time for networking and catch ups. Once the Fringe opens I am there in spirit watching all the TV reports and listening into Janice Forsyth’s programme each day from the comfort of my flat in Prague… a plan slowly comes together.
What are you looking for this year at the Fringe? Where will you be going to look for that?
A variety of things. Our application window has just opened so we will be encouraging acts to take a look at how we operate with a view to them coming to Prague, we established a Nordic theme at the Fringe there this year so I will be partly looking to connect with Nordic artists ahead of visiting the brand new Fringe in Bergen as well as Stockholm and Gothenburg Fringes in September. For me a larger part of being in Edinburgh is the networking and so I attend a lot of the networking events as well as info sessions for other World Fringes.
What advice would you give your industry peers who have never been to Edinburgh?
If you haven’t been before definitely plan in advance and stick to your plan. The FOMO is horrific in Edinburgh – everyone has seen 6 shows that you must see… but you can’t. Leave plenty time even once you have arrived at your venue, venues are often sub-divided into different venues and some have locations at the opposite side of the city. Ed Fringe is not a gentle Fringe, it’s hard core and will eat you up if you don’t watch out, you will be rained on, have sun stoke, sore feet and legs from climbing the hilly cobbled streets and that’s all within the first two hours. I used to say ‘take risks’ and go and see shows that you hadn’t planned to see but life is too short and there are too many great shows to miss so don’t bother taking too many risks. Summerhall is my current favourite venue – everything is amazing there – if you stayed there all August you’d leave very satisfied.
What resources do you use that you can signpost other arts professionals, to make their trips successful?
The Ed Fringe website is great and once you have set up an account all your plans and favourite shows transfer across to the app too. I pick up less leaflets than I used too but it’s definitely worth picking up the individual venue programmes as well as having the Ed Fringe one.