Kirsty Fraser, Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society
We spoke with Kirsty Fraser, Artist Development Manager at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society about working at the festival.
Hi Kirsty, thankyou for your time. Please can you tell us about how long you have been in your current role?
I am the Artist Development Manager at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, I've been in this role since the end of September 2022, but have worked with the Fringe Society in various roles since 2019.
Can you tell us a bit more about your current role?
The Artist Development Team support artists in their professional development before, during and after the Fringe. I manage the services that we offer, which include Fringe Connect, Fringe Central, 1:1 meetings, events and resources, the Emerging Producers Development Programme and also the Made in Scotland Showcase. In a nutshell, I provide next step guidance for artists coming to the Fringe!
What previous roles have you had with festivals in Edinburgh?
Artist Development Assistant, Edinburgh Fringe, 2019, Seasonal (6 weeks over the Fringe)
Artist Development Officer, Edinburgh Fringe, 2020, Temporary (7 month contract)
Participant Services Assistant, Edinburgh Fringe, 2021, Seasonal (8 weeks over the Fringe)
Artist Development Officer, Edinburgh Fringe, March 2022, Permanent
Artist Development Manager, Edinburgh Fringe, September 2022, Permanent
What did you particularly like about working in those roles?
The best thing about all of these roles was the opportunity to speak with lots of different artists, hear about their Fringe experience and support them in any way that I could. I thoroughly enjoyed learning why people had chosen to come to the Fringe, and what their ambitions were beyond the festival. There is a lot going on in Edinburgh during August and it can be quite difficult for artists to navigate, so being in a position where I could guide and support them through the month felt really rewarding.
What were the benefits of working in those roles when you applied for other jobs at the festivals?
The main benefit when applying for future roles at the Fringe was that I better understood the inner workings of the Fringe Society, and was also familiar with their application process. However, each role was still very competitive, so it was important for me to have other experiences within the sector that I could bring into these roles. Seasonal contracts generally in the sector are recognised as being fast paced and intense with lots of quick learning, so having done a seasonal festival contract is very attractive on a CV (in my opinion).
What are some of the challenges of working in temporary/ seasonal roles and how did you overcame these?
The main challenge for me was trying to secure the next job whilst also working an intense seasonal job. I overcame this by being very open with my manager about my work goals and ambitions. This was beneficial as it meant that they could support me in making the most of the seasonal role, whilst also supporting me with future applications. For example, they would send me any roles/opportunities that they had come across that they felt would be suitable for me, and were also able to help me with hitting application deadlines by letting me amend my working hours accordingly and providing a reference when needed.
Would you recommend working with the festivals, and why?
I would 100% recommend working with the festivals, even if just for a short time. The amount you learn in a short, seasonal contract is incredible and can really help you to get to that next step in your career. You also meet a lot of people who are either in the same position as you, or are doing the work you want to be doing so it is a great opportunity to network, build connections and ask your questions!
Any top tips you would give to people thinking of working with the festivals?
Do it! It can feel a bit daunting to take a short contract but if it is in the area of work that you want to be in, then it can be really beneficial and rewarding. If you have a full-time/permanent job and you are swithering about applying for a seasonal job at a festival - definitely speak to your employer about it. On two or three separate occasions, I left my permanent job to do a 6-week seasonal contract, and my permanent job was held for me to return to afterwards. Your employer might say no or may not be able to be that flexible, but it is definitely worth asking and having a conversation about the options.
Thankyou for your time and all the best for the festival this year!
Interview from May 2023