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New Awards Support Theatre for Social Change at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Last week saw the announcement of two new awards for shows presented at the 2018 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The SIT-UP Awards will aim to harness the power of plays to achieve greater social impact by supporting theatre companies before, during and after their productions allowing them to encourage audiences ‘to do something’ if they are affected by work they have seen on stage.

The awards have been launched by Fringe patron and philanthropist David Graham. Joining David in founding the awards are Robert Iles (co-founder of the UK Theatre Web, the UK’s oldest theatre website and largest performing arts archive) and Alice Millest (trustee of the charity theatre company Clean Break and youth-led initiative Art Against Knives). Also included on the judging panel will be Jez Bond (Park Theatre Director); Celia Tennant (Chief Executive of Inspiring Scotland); Rhea Lewis (Creative Producer and Co-Founder of Project X); and Adam Kashmiry, whose play Adam inspired David to set up the awards.

A shortlist of six productions will be announced during the second week of the Festival with the winner announced in the third week. Although the panel expects the shortlist to consist mainly of theatre productions, they are open to including comedy, dance or physical theatre. As well as great artistic merit, the shows will be judged against the following criteria:

  • Changing minds – A powerful play could achieve a ‘full 180’ of opinion and sustain this change long term. This reflects the play’s ability to incite empathy, and for the story to linger in the heart and mind after the festival.
  • Changing behaviours – The best productions will have a loud, specific call to action with information or mechanisms to help audiences achieve that goal.
  • Research integrity – This could be informing the content or direction of the play as a result of collaboration with a charity, or through involving those with lived experience in the production.
  • Raising awareness – Plays that educate audiences, helping them to understand issues they never knew existed or to see a new perspective or be given a greater insight, leaving them challenged by what they have experienced.

The winner will be awarded £5,000 – £1,000 with no obligation and £4,000 to help pay to extend the reach of their production after the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, for example, by funding the production of educational materials or helping cover the costs to remount the production. A second prize of £1,000 will also be awarded for a production that engages with audiences in an innovative way.

To find out more visit the SIT UP Awards website.

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