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Our Aims

The SIT-UP Awards are being 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 2017 Edinburgh Fringe there were 218 productions (22.3%) from a total of 977 productions that related to social issues, ranging from mental health, grief and death to human trafficking. 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 2017 Edinburgh Fringe Theatre Productions
Of 977 productions, 218 (22.3%) were identified as being related to social issues.

Abortion 3 1.4%
Abuse 11 5.0%
Addiction 5 2.3%
Bullying 6 2.8%
Dementia and Alzheimer’s 11 5.0%
Disability and Health 15 6.9%
Environment 1 0.5%
Grief and Death 24 11.0%
Human Rights and Prison 10 4.6%
LGBT 38 17.4%
Mental Heath 52 23.9%
Poverty and Homeless 4 1.8%
Race 11 5.0%
Refugees 21 9.6%
Social Media 1 0.5%
Women in Society 5 2.3%
 Total     218 100.0%
  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.

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 an award.
  • We are working with several companies before and during the festival to help them raise awareness about their issues.
  • We are working with venues to better understand the impact that theatre has on audiences.
  • We provide advice and comprehensive resources for the benefit of all companies wishing to have social impact.