Back to Top

Social Impact Theatre


Our Aims

The SIT-UP Awards were first launched at the 2018 Edinburgh Fringe to recognise Social Impact Theatre.

Every year, there are fantastic plays that delicately and powerfully tell stories about important social issues.

At the 2019 Edinburgh Fringe there were 367 productions (35.5%) from a total of 1,033 productions that related to social issues, ranging from mental health, grief and death to abuse. See the survey results below.

Usually the momentum 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 and provide one or more "calls to action". There are many ways this can be done 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.

These are missed opportunities to harness empathy and make a difference.

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.

This opinion piece was in The Scotsman in August 2018 and sets out our case for change. Edinburgh Festival Fringe could help change the world

Below is an analysis of productions in 2018 and 2019 relating to social issues:-

The changes we want to see…

  • Theatre Companies and venues widening the social impact of the issues addressed in their work
  • 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

Analysis of Previous Years Subjects

Mental Health6517.70%4618.00%
Gender and identity5715.50%2911.40%
Health and Disability308.20%218.20%
Digital Society256.80%124.70%
Grief and Death246.50%155.90%
Abuse and Bullying174.60%228.60%
Human Rights and Prison133.50%20.80%
Dementia and Alzheimers61.60%62.40%
Poverty and Homeless51.40%114.30%

  1. Data for all theatre productions provided by Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society.
  2. Analysis based on descriptions and information provided by productions.
  3. Omissions or incorrect analysis should not be significant.
  4. Productions in other categories, e.g. Comedy and Dance also may relate to issues but have not been included.