Peter Buckley Hill

Peter Buckley Hill

PBH to stand down from Free Fringe

2016 will be his final year

Free Fringe founder Peter Buckley-Hill has confirmed that he is to step down from the organisation he set up.

The comic says he will not attend next year’s festival, after 19 years of hosting his Peter Buckley-Hill And Some Comedians show which pioneered the business model.

The premise – that performers do not pay for their venue and audiences do not pay to get in, but make a donation at the end – has been credited with revolutionising the Fringe. 

However in recent years PBH’s animosity with the rival Laughing Horse and short-lived Freestival movements has caused friction, with comedians caught in the fallout.

In an email to performers with shows on the Free Fringe this year, he confirmed: ‘I intend not to attend Fringe 2017, either as organiser or performer.’

And he set out his 19-point succession plan.

If the company behind the operation, The Free Fringe Ltd, is in the red at the end of the festival, it will be dissolved and wound up. But it if it is solvent, he proposed a new management structure be put in place, with more than a dozen key roles to be filled.

In today’s email PBH wrote: ‘Clearly this structure depends on volunteers coming forward. But if volunteers do not come forward, then the Free Fringe is Doomed anyway. 

‘The important thing about volunteers is: they should see the task through to the end, no matter what difficulties arise. In the past, I have been there to pick up any role that has been dropped. But now I shall not be there.’

He said there would be a vote among 2016 Free Fringe shows if more than one person put themselves forward for any role, but added:  ‘We lack the formal infrastructure for a proper election. You’ll have to trust me.’

Buckley Hill added that he would ‘take a prominent role in liaising with current and new venues and in all things that belong to my current role, until replaced by the new structure’ - but reiterated ‘if there are insufficient volunteers to take over, the Free Fringe will cease. I shall no longer hold it together.’

New company directors would be appointed once the  new structure was in place.

That would end his association with the movement, but Buckley Hill added  that he expected all volunteers to commit themselves to the lengthy ‘ethos and conditions’ which Free Fringe performers must sign up for – including the controversial condition at no performers should have another show with any other free-admission organisation.

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Published: 16 Aug 2016

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