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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 2018 Edinburgh Fringe there were 255 productions (26.4%) from a total of 965 productions that related to social issues, ranging from mental health, grief and death to abuse. See the survey results below.

But often the momentum ends once the audience leaves the auditorium. These are missed opportunities to harness empathy and make a difference. And when we surveyed production companies, we found that most did not provide their audiences with clear calls to action. For example, the programme or a separate flyer might indicate specific calls to action that audience members might make. Perhaps there might be a post show discussion. Maybe the production is working with or supporting a specific organisation or charity which might have 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.

Survey Results

Summary of 2018 Edinburgh Fringe Theatre Productions
Of 965 productions, 255 (26.4%) were identified as being related to social issues.

Mental Health 46 18.0%
Women in Society 29 11.4%
LGBT 27 10.6%
Abuse 20 7.8%
Race 16 6.3%
Disability and Health 16 6.3%
Grief and Death 15 5.9%
Social Media 12 4.7%
#meToo 11 4.3%
Poverty and Homeless 11 4.3%
Refugees 9 3.5%
Civil Society 9 3.5%
Addiction 6 2.4%
Dementia and Alzheimer’s 6 2.4%
Loneliness 6 2.4%
Others 16 6.4%
 Total     255 100.0%
  1. Others include NHS, Abortion, Bullying, Young carers, Environment and Human Rights.
  2. Data for all theatre productions provided by Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society.
  3. Analysis based on descriptions and information provided by productions.
  4. Omissions or incorrect analysis should not be significant.
  5. Productions in other categories, e.g. Comedy and Dance also may relate to issues but have not been included.

The changes we want to see…

  • Theatre Companies and venues become more engaged with the social issues they portray
  • Charities believe in the power of theatre to raise awareness and engage new supporters
  • Audiences are empowered to act on their emotional engagement and take responsibility

What we are doing...

  • We have created two awards.
  • We encourage companies to raise awareness about their issues.
  • We are working with venues to increase their engagement with audiences.
  • We provide advice and comprehensive resources to all companies wishing to have social impact.
  • We are providing funding to enable those affected by issues to see the relevant show.