Bursary Launched To Help Working Class Performers At The Edinburgh Fringe

Crowdfunded, profit sharing initiative Best in Class has announced a new bursary for working class performers at the Edinburgh Fringe. House of Class is a new fund established with the help of a Fringe Recovery Grant specifically to support working class acts with rising accommodation costs.

Best in Class was set up in 2018 by Sian Davies (pictured) to champion the talent of working class comedians. In 2018/19 Best In Class enabled 16 working class comedians to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe. The acts work tirelessly to cover the costs involved through showcases and crowdfunding. Crucially, none of the acts pay to participate in the show and they all received payment for the work they do.

Best In Class alumni have gone on to achieve fantastic successes within their comedy careers. Acts have signed for agents, gained TV work, created sell out shows and had critically acclaimed work. Best In Class has been represented in the finals of some of the biggest comedy competitions in the UK, including the BBC New Comedy Award, Funny Women Awards, Leicester Mercury Comedian of the year and So You Think You’re Funny?

Plans for Best In Class 2022 are now in full swing, with some of the acts who were due to perform in 2020 finally getting to take part. A lot of changes have happened since the start of the pandemic and some acts have decided the timing isn’t right for them this year. They will remain part of the Best in Class family and have the opportunity to take up a place on the show in future years. 

Applications are now open for working class comedians who would like to be part of the 2022 team. Acts commit to a week at the fringe, they arrange their own travel and accommodation. They will fundraise in the run up, taking part in showcases, interviews and other events. Whilst at the fringe they will be involved in flyering and the day to day running of the show. They must not already be taking part in another show but are encouraged to seek spots on compilation shows during their time at the fringe. Acts pay nothing to be part of the show and are all paid for their contribution from the profit that is made.

As well as Best in Class and the cult classic Comedy Queers, Sian Davies will bring her debut hour of stand up to Edinburgh Fringe this august. Davies said “Most performers would be able to focus on their solo show in their debut year. As a working class comic, I don’t have that privilege. I will be grafting on three shows a day to make sure my fringe is financially viable. As a working class act there is no safety net, the margins are tighter, the risk is greater. But I believe I deserve to be there, so I make it work.”

“A lot of our Best in Class show costs were met by our 2020 fundraising campaign and were rolled over to this year. We want to take this opportunity to extend our support to as many working class performers as we can. Our new accommodation bursary aims to support working class acts who are doing a full fringe run.”

“We were awarded a Fringe Recovery Grant which helped to establish the House of Class bursary. Through this fund we can offer £500 bursaries to individuals to help with the spiralling cost of Edinburgh accommodation. We want to extend this to as many acts as we can so all of our fundraising this year will be directed towards the House of Class fund. The more donations we get, the more acts we can support.”

“This fund is a tangible way to make a difference to working class performers within the industry. People make a lot of noise about encouraging more working class acts to participate in the Fringe. Networking events, regional accents and plays about living under the shadow of a colliery are all well and good, but lived experience shows that the real barrier to participation is financial. I would love to see the big venues, promoters and PR companies contributing to the scheme. The Fringe gave us the money to start this fund, it’s time the other big players put their money where their mouths are, so to speak. This is a real way of supporting working class performers rather than just paying lip service to the issue.” 

Working class performers taking part in a full run at the Edinburgh Fringe can apply for a House of Class accommodation bursary from 01/05/2022.


Donate to Best in Class: https://www.gofundme.com/f/best-in-class-house-of-class

Best in Class Edinburgh Fringe show: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/best-in-class

Tickets for Sian Davies: About Time: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/sian-davies-about-time

Apply to take part in Best in Class 2022: https://forms.gle/bqD3825egc34fNBA9


Picture: Andy Hollingworth



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