For Keith Savage, this year’s Buxton Fringe will be his first as chair of the committee and he is looking forward to ringing the changes.
In addition to a mystery surprise lined up for Fringe Sunday (and his lips are sealed), he says the Fringe is introducing the al fresco Fringe at Five to precede the Festival’s Song at Six at the Bandstand.
“The team at the Pavilion Gardens have been great and we plan to have flamenco - with a Spanish troupe - and singing from July 14-26 at 5pm. We also have some new venues for Fringe 2014 - including some on the Market Place which are being run by Sian Dudley.”
As to the future, he says: “The Fringe has grown enormously over the past ten years…so it is hard to predict what will happen.” The potential loss of Underground Venues’ home in the basement of the Old Hall as part of the Crescent redevelopment is a concern, but Keith is confident that more opportunities will arise.
“We may find that performance spaces in and around The Crescent open up to us and it could be that we are able to develop closer links with the Opera and Literature Festival… We also hope to work more with the University of Derby which sponsors the Fringe and that could bring a new dimension.”
Keith himself was first inspired by some Fringe events he saw in the early 1990s.
“I remember a stunning promenade version of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight which ended with ‘horses’ galloping around Solomon’s Temple as storm clouds gathered.”
Bitten by the bug, he became a reviewer then treasurer before finally taking up the position of chair last November.
Laidback as he appears, Keith is very busy, working part-time at Stockport College as well as being a borough councillor, a director at the opera house and a member of Buxton Film.
Chairing the Fringe hasn’t exactly added glamour (“no invitations to BAFTA”) but nor has it proved overwhelming thanks to his “hard-working and experienced Fringe committee which gets on with the job and does things that I’m totally unaware of.”
Keith is keen to sing its praises. He explains: “The Fringe is a registered charity with an annual turnover of about £12,000.
“We have a professional and polished website; a skilled and dynamic marketing team; we are available to would-be performers pretty much 365 days a year… we distribute tens of thousands of pieces of promotional material… all of this promotional work is done by people for nothing.”
The committee meets monthly from September to June. Says Keith: “We have some fun along the way and we’re always open to new members who have skills and enthusiasm to bring.”
For further information see www.buxtonfringe.org.uk.