Stirling Fringe Festival CIC & Central Design Agency Ltd – Stirling Fringe Festival
Impacts: Young people, Education, Community and social empowerment, Tourism
The Stirling Fringe Festival was initially launched in 2013 from offices at Stirling's Old Town Jail. As a voluntary organisation we shared office space with a newly established design firm, Central Agency Ltd. It soon became apparent that we shared a similar vision for arts development and the creative sector in Stirling. The team at Central Agency witnessed the difficult process of organising an arts festival with no public funding or sponsorship and offered to help out in year two - 2014. The aim of the Stirling Fringe Festival is twofold - to increase the arts provision in Stirling/community engagement within the arts and to develop Stirling's reputation as a cultural centre and attract visitors to the area. This is a vision which was shared with Central Agency.
Credit: Tanya Jurkovic
As a young, dynamic creative business, they felt it would be mutually beneficial to align themselves with a growing arts festival and position themselves as a forward-thinking agency with social responsibility. With the help of Central Agency's in-kind sponsorship (they supplied all corporate branding, design work, website build and maintenance) and the New Arts Sponsorship Grant (as well as funding from the local authority and EventScotland) we were able to deliver the largest multi-arts festival in Stirling's history. The festival hosted 50 events in 20 venues over 10 days, ranging from theatre, music, art exhibitions and comedy, to street theatre, poetry events, children's shows and historical re-enactments. The event attracted over 4,200 people, more than double the amount in the first year (2013). The festival relied almost solely on a team of 13 volunteers from across Central Scotland.
Arts/cultural organisation story
The award of the New Arts Sponsorship Grant was a key factor in developing the festival's national and international reputation. The grant enabled the festival to cover fees for acts our limited budget could not normally attract. In particular, we were able to secure several key Scottish musical acts (Pictish Trail, Emma Pollock, Amy Duncan) to play unique acoustic concerts. The funding also enabled us to attract acts from overseas, the first time we have done so. Acts from Sweden, South Africa and Canada were added to the festival line-up, further enhancing our reputation as a festival with international links. Consequently, the festival's profile was significantly increased and media coverage was widespread, including national television (BBC Reporting Scotland), national radio (BBC Radio Scotland's Culture Cafe) and national press (Scotsman, Herald).
The grant also helped to enhance the festival's marketing reach, contributing to a significant campaign, which included press and online advertising, promotional gifts, brochures, posters, street banners across central Scotland. This in addition to reputable acts helped attract a larger audience to the festival as a whole and develop its reputation as one of the country's fastest growing arts festivals. It has also helped create new relationships with potential future funders and sponsors. We will be developing and taking these relationships further as we plan future festivals. Central Agency also committed to work closely with the festival in 2015 with some level of in-kind support.
Perhaps the greatest achievement of the 2014 festival was the reaction of the local community. Engagement levels more than doubled from the previous year and the festival was a constant topic of conversation. The local authority, community councils and community organisations were all incredibly supportive of the project and even lent some volunteers. The increased funding has helped us realise what can be achieved with a larger budget and gives optimism that we can grow and develop the festival into one of Scotland's leading arts festivals.
Our sponsorship of the Stirling Fringe has been a thoroughly rewarding experience, both from a personal and a business post of view. Central Agency is a small organisation and the opportunity to engage with another small Stirling based organisation has been a rich experience. Being actively engaged in the arts scene has been an uplifting experience for all staff and we challenged ourselves to attend events we would not normally have attended. As well as being a bonding experience for office staff it opened our eyes culturally - a great value in the creative sector. It has also encouraged us to look again at collaborative working across the arts and we would be very keen to work with the Stirling Fringe team again.
We have built up a valuable and lasting relationship with the organisation and it is one we would like to build upon. From a business point of view, our involvement with the Stirling Fringe has had several direct impacts, not least the award of two design contracts which arose directly from our design and website build for the Stirling Fringe. Brand awareness of Central Agency has also increased due to our logo, advert and brand presence at Stirling Fringe events. We believe that our brand reputation has also been enhanced due to an association with a growing and a reputable arts festival.
Audience numbers more than doubled from the inaugural 2013 festival, with approximately 60 per cent coming from the local area. Engagement with community organisations and groups also increased, including local arts groups who staged performances and the local community council who endorsed the festival. The festival also attracted a larger number of volunteers from the local business community. Thirteen volunteers including professional marketeers, events managers and admin workers were invaluable assets and helped the event run smoothly. We also saw greater engagement with Stirling University and Forth Valley College, both of whom staged events as part of the wider programme, as well as providing events volunteers.