Back to Top

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.

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 year we will have two full time co-ordinators providing support and advice and we have also put together some case studies and resources that will help all productions to achieve meaningful impact.

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

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 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

What we are doing...

  • We have created two awards, with prizes worth £5k and £1k.
  • 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.