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Social Impact Theatre



A social impact award at the Edinburgh Fringe

The Sit-Up Awards have been given, COVID permitting, since 2018

The SIT-UP Awards is an annual award at the Edinburgh Fringe to reward and support theatre to achieve greater social impact. This is an initiative of the UK registered charity Changing Ideas Limited For more details about who we are see our About Us page.

We believe in the power of theatre to achieve change both in audiences and wider society. In 2023, we have decided to make up to 2 awards of £5,000 each ahead of the Fringe to enable a company to be able to fully engage with audiences during their run and also achieve wider societal impact with their work both during and after the Fringe.

How To Apply

Complete an application form >>

The award will be made in advance of the Fringe to enable the winner to be able to achieve maximum impact during their run.

The award will only be given to a company who can show a proven track record in audience engagement and a demonstrable ability to use theatre to achieve change. In addition to the cash prize of £5,000, we are also providing additional support through our networks and contacts.

We care about plays that have an impact beyond audiences so try to be as specific as possible in your goals and explain the details of your campaigning strategy with the charity you are working with.

We want to know:-

  • What is the issue you are seeking to highlight?
  • What you want to achieve?
  • How you are going to achieve it.
  • What tangible actions will you take to engage with your audience?
  • Are you working with a charity or other campaigning organisation?
  • How will you use the £5,000 award?
  • What are your future plans for the production?

Please also attach to your application form any plan, budget or other relevant information. Please get in touch if you have any questions.

Applications must be submitted as soon as possible and the closing date is 30th June 2023.

Complete an application form >>

Our Aims

The SIT-UP Awards were first launched at the 2018 Edinburgh Fringe to recognise Social Impact Theatre. This means theatre that tangibly affects people’s lives or brings about change in society.

Every year, there are fantastic plays that delicately and powerfully tell stories about important social issues. Unfortunately the momentum usually ends once the audience leaves the auditorium. When we surveyed production companies, we found that most did not engage with their audiences beyond the production itself. There are many ways this can be done such as by providing a flyer, getting your audience to make a social pledge, holding a post-show discussion or linking with a charity to provide educational materials.

So we decided to provide help and support to theatre makers to amplify and extend the reach of their work before, during, and after their productions. This has involved facilitating post show discussions, linking companies and charities, funding information sheets for audiences, buying tickets for those affected to see shows and more.

The Changes We Want To See ...

  • Theatre Companies and venues widening the social impact of the issues addressed in their work
  • Theatre Companies and venues ensuring adequate trigger information is provided prior to a show
  • Theatre Companies and venues to engage with audiences after shows with imapct to provide a Q&A, or links to and information about relevant support organisations
  • Charities believing in the power of theatre to raise awareness and engage new supporters
  • Audiences empowered to act on their emotional engagement and take responsibility
  • Theatre Companies helping to achieve positive change within society

What You Can Do

We have put together various case studies and resources inspired by previous award winners and those shortlisted for the awards. There is also analysis of the topics covered by shows at prefious Fringe Festivals.

Before your show

  • Think about how your play can achieve impact by collaborating with your audience
  • Partner with a charity to ascertain facts and help in the creative process
  • Consider a specific audience fundraise e.g. fund a lobbying campaign
  • Seek out and bolster an existing campaign, raising awareness and support of it with the play
  • Include people affected by the issues in the creative process
  • Invite decision makers and/ or those affected by the issues to view the performance
  • Engage with your audience waiting in the queue, e.g. a question / online survey

Immediately after your show

  • Circulate an issue fact sheet or “how to help” leaflet e.g. donate, sign a petition, volunteer or learn
  • Hold a post show Q&As or discussions, including a call to action
  • Get audience feedback or comments
  • Ask your audience to make a donation or make a social pledge


  • Actors become advocates, speaking at events or performing rehearsed readings
  • Taking your production into schools
  • Work on a strategy to ensure the play has longer term impact
  • Show the play to policy-makers

Previous Winners

These are the previous winners, follow the links for more details and information on other awards we have given to outstanding shows.

2022 - The Beatles Were A Boyband - F-Bomb Theatre

2019 - Who Cares - LUNG and The Lowry in partnership with Gaddum

2018 - Dangerous Giant Animals - Christina Murdock