Read about all our community initiatives past and present.
It is a core part of the Buxton Fringe's philosophy that the arts are for all and we recognise the need to spread the word in our local community. By making more people aware of the Fringe, we hope to bring the arts to a wider audience. We would also like to encourage more people to perform and exhibit.
A key strand in our Community Links scheme is helping entrants to bring workshops or performances to community groups.
Want to get involved either as a host or a performer?
In recent years we have conducted community initiatives with elderly residents at the Pavilion Care Home, Haddon Hall Care Home and Portland Nursing Home as well as organising workshops with schools and community groups to create a giant orange fringe to decorate the Pavilion Gardens' bandstand on Fringe Sunday. This was displayed at the Working Men's Club during Fringe40 in 2019 and is now a fixture at Fringe Sunday and on the Fringe's carnival float. The fringe is made up of embroidered panels and was the brainchild of Fringe artist Gaye Chorlton.
In 2019 the Fringe teamed up with the Buxton Art Trail so that Haddon Hall Care Home residents could enjoy a day of art appreciation and a hands-on workshop making a Fringe40 banner.
The Fringe's relationship with schools is extensive. For many years the Fringe has used volunteers from Buxton Community School to help staff its Fringe Desk. More recently New Mills School and Lady Manners have been involved. Younger students have also been involved through work experience placements. In 2015, a student from Ashbourne, Lily Brown, became a roving photographer during the Fringe.
In 2020's difficult COVID year The Fringe worked with the Sculpture Trail inviting local primary school children to write to Floella Flap-a-lot and draw her pictures.
2019's Fringe40 carnival was a particularly lavish affair. The float was our biggest to date and was a joint project with Buxton International Festival. Working with Babbling Vagabonds theatre company, the Fringe and Festival organised workshops in schools resulting in giant puppets on a Carnival of the Animals theme. The float won first prize in its category. We are currently looking at ways to involve the community further in our carnival float.
In 2018 members of the Fringe committee visited Fairfield Junior School with Herding Catz musician Peter Buxton.
For our 30th Fringe in 2009 a team of artists led a series of young people's workshops in a major project, National Lottery funded, to create Vers@Tile, a mosaic triptych that went on to be displayed in Buxton Museum and the Pavilion Gardens' Art Café.
The Fringe "Hot Spots" scheme was originally set up in 2021 thanks to an idea from the much-missed Fringe Vice Chair, Viv Marriott. The scheme also took inspiration from Jamie Reid's 2016 Casting Seeds exhibition in Liverpool. In the years since the idea took hold in Buxton, these cheery, orange floral displays have popped up in key locations around the town including outside the Buxton Opera House, the Pump Room, The Green Man Gallery, Day Zero and (in lego form!), Brick Corner.
The Fringe is excited to involve more and more people in growing their own Hot Spots, brightening up the town and celebrating the Fringe's explosion of arts in July. As with the Buxton Flowerpot Trail run by Funny Wonders, the Hot Spots show how everyone can have a go at being artistic and creating something fun and attractive.
The Fringe is always eager to strike up new partnerships and associations. 2023 saw a useful collaboration with High Peak Community Arts and Buxton Project eARTh plus Sheffield artist Sara Blackburn, who designed silk banners and flags for us thanks to support from the National Lottery Community Fund. Read more here.
During a long period of sponsorship of the Fringe by the University of Derby Buxton, the Fringe worked closely with the university appearing at its student open days and also helping marketing students with a project about the Fringe. The Fringe has also benefited from collaborations with students at the University of Derby to produce designs for our Fringe programme cover.
In 2019 we worked with the Rossendale Trust providing a work experience placement for a learning disabled Fringe enthusiast called Barry Haynes. He did valuable work for us collecting survey forms among other tasks - thank you Barry!
2019's Fringe40 also saw partnerships with local brass bands as well as the running of two sessions promoting awareness on accessibility and dementia. See our comprehensive Venues list for details of venues' facilities, locations and accessibility.
In 2011-12 we forged a new relationship with the housing association Adullam and have managed to enable service users to see some Fringe shows for free. In that first year around 17 people saw nine different shows ranging from a military tattoo to Shakespeare. One user, Adrian, wrote of his attendance at a show at Underground Venues: "Piff the Magic Dragon had me laughing all the way through. I didn't know magic could be so funny. I even got to stroke Mr Piffles the Chihuahua." Piff has since become an internet sensation following his appearance on America's Got Talent.
Adullam Housing Trust was also one organisation to benefit from Fringe performers coming to them. In 2012 comedians Seymour and Sykes held a comedy workshop about writing and performing comedy. This interactive experience helped raise confidence and self-esteem through group discussion and stand-up performance. In 2015 the award-winning dotdotdot dance provided a flamenco workshop for users and staff at the association. One participant noted: "They were great teachers and it was a new and enjoyable experience".
In 2013, 30 deserving service users from Adullam Housing Trust enjoyed free show tickets organised by the Fringe, and Stickleback Theatre arranged a special performance of Jordan at the Trust itself. In the words of one service user: "The play was captivating, the mystery in the story, the reality in the darkness that one's life can be so hidden from others and once the door closes who knows what really goes on. That one's life may be full of anguish and love all mixed up in one big mess. The play really does play with your mind. It was amazing to watch a single person create such a heartfelt story. I really enjoyed it."
Adullam service users have also provided exquisite orange paper flowers for the Fringe carnival float in the past and table decorations for the Fringe Awards. We are hoping to explore the idea of further artistic collaborations in the future.
As part of our commitment to spread the word, we take a Fringe float around the Buxton Carnival and put on a free open-air showcase of Fringe events called Fringe Sunday. You can see pictures of these on our gallery pages.
In 2014 then new chair Keith Savage introduced Fringe at Five, a regular free event at the Bandstand in the Pavilion Gardens showcasing some of the very best of Fringe talent and complementing Buxton Festival's Song at Six in the same location. The idea came from choir teacher Carol Bowns and her Kaleidoscope community choir was the first act to perform. Fringe at Five was one of a significant number of free events at the Fringe designed to reach out to a large number of people.
Fringe at Five has gone on to inspire busking opportunities outside the Fringe desk and Fringe on Friday - extracts from shows at the Bandstand.
All these initiatives have helped publicise shows but also brought performance and an awareness of the Fringe to the general public beyond committed theatre-goers.
We understand that many people face financial difficulties. Since 2013, Fringe for Free has listed all our free events in one place.
2020's Covid year posed special challenges for Buxton Fringe. Most events went online meaning that they were more accessible than ever in some respects. However the Fringe organised Phone@5 to bring live micro-performances from storytellers, singers, poets and comedians down the line, opening up another channel of communication. Online performances remain a small but appreciated part of the Fringe offering each year.
2022 also saw a redoubling of efforts to bring a flavour of the Fringe to a wider audience via a new Fringe YouTube channel, a series of Fringe podcasts and the filming of the Awards ceremony for the second year running. We are now committed to filming this every year. Whilst these initiatives formed part of our marketing strategy to help build audiences, they also proved valuable for people unable to attend events in person (including those affected by July 2021's surge in Covid cases).
We are constantly trying to think of new ways to broaden our reach and are open to fresh ideas and connections with community groups.
If you would like to contact us about any of the above please Send message to Community Links.