Buxton Fringe has released statistics showing that this year’s festival resulted in a nearly £300,000 boost to the local economy.
The estimated figure of £276,042 includes expenditure from performers during their stay in Buxton plus audience spend on food, accommodation and ticket sales for shows by local performers. This very conservative estimate does not include the Fringe’s additional local expenditure on printing, design, merchandise and Fringe Information Desk wages.
Audience spending on accommodation was almost double last year’s. Meanwhile, total ticket sales were up by 31% on 2022’s event with the average audience figure of 30 being the highest it had been since 2014 with some performers enjoying sold-out shows.
Taking into account audiences for free events such as Fringe Sunday and prestigious exhibitions at the Octagon and the Crescent, the total audience figure was estimated at around 13,600 people despite the closure of the Buxton Museum and the cancellation of The Derbyshire Open.
Results from the Fringe’s audience survey showed that 91% of respondents gave an approval rate of 4 or 5 out of 5. Audience feedback was overwhelmingly supportive with comments including: “It’s excellent - if only we could do it all”, “Amazing organisation and some fab shows!“, “The Fringe App is excellent”, “A wonderful, creative, eclectic mix” and “Brilliant! 190 events in a small town. Wow!”
57% of respondents were also attending Buxton International Festival events indicating a healthy crossover.
The entrants’ survey was equally positive with performers praising the Fringe for its “very straightforward” entry process as well as the “very strong, down-to-earth and welcoming” help offered by Fringe organisers and the “friendly environment” in which to put on new shows.
The Fringe continues to prove a big draw for Buxton with just under half of audience respondents coming from outside the SK area; visitors hailed from all over the UK including Cambridge, London, Belfast and Birmingham with one person coming over from Australia. 24% of entrants were from the local SK area with the rest from locations including London, Liverpool, Manchester, Folkestone, North Wales and as far afield as Bavaria and Chicago.
In the month of July the busy Fringe website received nearly 1.5 million hits. The handy Fringe App is also being increasingly well used. 21% of audience survey respondents were attending the Fringe for the first time. There was also evidence of audience loyalty with 45% that had been coming for between two and 9 years.
Music, Comedy and Theatre were particularly well represented at this year’s Fringe which had a healthy total of 192 events including last-minute events and one online performance. Fringe Chair Stephen Walker comments: “It has been great to see Buxton audiences really getting behind Fringe events this year and it is no surprise that the local economy has benefitted to such an extent. Buxton has seen an amazing summer of festivals this year thanks to the winning combination of Buxton Fringe, BIF and the returning G&S Festival."
The Fringe committee is grateful to anyone who filled in a survey and plans to build on audience and entrants’ suggestions for the future including a revamp of event listings presentation on the Fringe website. Previous ideas that have been acted upon include more publicity for the Fringe in Higher Buxton, tweaks to the entry process and the creation of an online Fringe Friends form. The number of Friends has now risen to 195 with members enjoying 10% off full ticket prices and discounts at participating cafés and establishments around the town during the Fringe.
Next year’s Fringe is already being planned. Dates have been set as July 3-21 2024 with the Fringe website https://buxtonfringe.org.uk/entrants.html opening for entries on December 1. Entry fees have been kept the same as last year in recognition of performers’ financial constraints.
Performers, audiences and supporters are invited to meet the Fringe team at its open-to-all Annual General Meeting to be held on Wednesday 22 November at the Green Man Gallery, 7 for 7.30pm.