The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is globally recognised as an essential go to, in the international calendar of major performing arts events.  It is the biggest open access annual Festival in the world. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society is the charitable organisation that underpins the Fringe, providing support services for participants and audiences and promoting the Fringe in its entirety. It is fundamental to the work of the Fringe Society to maintain and uphold the open access principle, along with ensuring that the Edinburgh Festival Fringe continues to make a significant contribution to the cultural, social and economic well-being of Edinburgh and Scotland.
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society is both a registered charity and a registered company and benefits from the strategic leadership of a board that comprises up to seventeen individuals from a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences, three quarters of whom are elected from the Society’s membership.  The Chair appointment represents a great opportunity for an exceptional individual to guide the organisation that underpins this world-renowned performing arts phenomenon.

Basis of appointment

The Chair of the board is appointed by the board, on the recommendation of the appointments committee. Appointment will be made in April 2021, for an initial period of four years. The current chair is Professor Sir Timothy O’Shea, who has chaired the organisation since 2012.

Why does the Fringe matter?
The Fringe Society believes that everyone, irrespective of their background and circumstance, should have the opportunity to experience and express themselves through creativity.
Everyone with a desire to perform and a venue willing to host them is welcome at the Fringe. No individual or committee determines who can or cannot appear. The audience are invited to curate their own festival from the wide range of choice on offer.
It all began in 1947 with eight companies – six of them from Scotland – taking a risk, turning up uninvited and performing on the ‘fringe’ of the inaugural Edinburgh International Festival. Over 70 years later, the Fringe has grown to become the greatest platform for creative freedom in the world.
Each August, The Fringe welcomes tens of thousands of participants from over 60 countries to perform in venues across Edinburgh, from the smallest phone box to the grandest theatre. The Fringe has become the premiere meeting place for creative people from all over the world to perform, gather, exchange, discover and select new work. It is at the centre of a global movement of over 250 fringe festivals, each inspired by Edinburgh’s example.
Much has changed since 1947, but the founding principle remains the same – if you have a story to tell, and a venue to host you, the Fringe stage is yours.
What is the Fringe Society? 
The Fringe Society is a charity that was established by participants to act as the custodian of the Fringe. In line with its constitution the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society exists:
  1. To promote and advance for the public benefit the arts and the appreciation of the arts, including, but not restricted to, the arts of drama, mime, dance, singing, music and theatre (all together, “the Arts”).
  2. To educate, support, advise, and encourage those who participate in the Arts.
  3. To promote the Arts at all levels of cultural and educational life in Scotland and elsewhere.
  4. To promote such similar charitable purposes, objects or institutions and in such proportions and manner as the Directors shall think fit.

The Role

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society (EFFS) is a registered charity and is governed by its Constitution and the Board of Trustees.
All potential Trustees should read the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) guidance on being a trustee – this sets out the legal duties of a charity Trustee in Scotland.
The guidance from OSCR gives detailed insight into the liabilities, responsibilities and best practice for all charity Trustees and is a clear and useful guide in helping you understand the legal duties of the role of Trustee.  

Roles and Responsibilities
It is the responsibility of all Fringe Society Trustees to:
  1. Ensure the mission statement of the Fringe Society is upheld.
  2. Establish the strategic vision of the Fringe Society.
  3. Set the medium and long term strategy and structure of the Fringe Society. 
  4. Appoint the Chief Executive of the Fringe Society.
  5. Effectively delegate operation of the Fringe Society to the executive. 
  6. Exercise financial accountability to stakeholders and constituents.
  7. Exercise accountability for the actions of the Fringe Society to the public.
  8. Uphold the core values of the Fringe Society and reflect the Fringe in a positive way.
  9. Advocate for the Fringe Society and the Fringe in an impartial manner, on a local, national and international platform. 

Becoming a Trustee of the Fringe Society

The Code of Conduct for Trustees of the Fringe Society outlines what is expected of Trustees in terms of managing conflicts of interest, putting the charity and its purpose first, duty of care to staff, and legal and fiduciary duties.  
The Board of Trustees meet a minimum of five times a year, in Edinburgh. They also host a public AGM in August of each year. There are a number of subcommittees of the Board who each meet up to four times per year.
The calendar below sets out the commitment required from Trustees of the Fringe Society throughout the year. Each meeting last approx. 2-3 hours. Standing items at each meeting include papers from up to five committees, a report from the Chief Executive and the latest management accounts.

Board meetingPriorities
JanuaryConsideration of the Risk Register
Approval of the Audit plan
MaySignature of the Audited Accounts
Approval of amends to the Constitution (if required)
AugustPre meeting for AGM
SeptemberInformal review of the Festival Fringe
Priority and planning for following year
November Review of Annual Report (approx.200 pages)
Approval of annual budget
Approval of annual business planning priorities
Festival Fringe Trading Ltd board meeting

 The Chair 

The role of the Chair of the board is detailed below. This position is not remunerated, although expenses are covered.
The global pandemic has had a significant impact on the Fringe, the Society and the wider culture and events sector. It is also likely to have a bearing on the strategic direction of the organisation going forward.
The Fringe Society survived 2020 through a combination of prudent financial management, cost cutting and the job retention scheme; converting sponsors and memberships into donations; securing government recovery grants and a £1m loan from Scottish Government. Both the Society and the Fringe have a steep recovery challenge ahead and we are confident of success.
The new Chair of the Fringe Society will lead the Board and executive team to create a strengthened and more resilient Fringe Society and Fringe. Their leadership will focus on two central priorities, a mixed economy model of income generation and an ambitious programme of digital transformation.

The chair will; 
  • Ensure the Fringe Society has in place a strategic vision to enable it to maintain the Edinburgh Festival Fringe’s pre-eminent position in the world; 
  • Lead the board of trustees through effective decision making, through consensus building and consulting expert guidance; 
  • Be an active, public-facing advocate for the Fringe and the Fringe Society amongst senior stakeholders and across government;
  • Ensure the financial stability of the organisation and drive the Society's proposals for future income generation and investment
  • Lead the Fringe Society’s four level plan to digital transformation;
  • Promote an open and useful dialogue within board meetings to support the achievement of the Fringe Society’s aims and strategic objectives;
  • Work closely with the Chief Executive to promote the effective and efficient use of Fringe Society staff and resources; 
  • Ensure that the organisation complies with its governing document, charity law, company law and any other relevant legislation or regulations; 
  • Give support to, and challenge, the executive team, ensuring a robust understanding of the roles of the board and the executive are understood by all;
  • Lead the appointment of the chief executive and monitor their performance;
  • Ensure the board has the necessary skills and competencies to service the organisation, through skills audit and the appointed director process; 
  • Chair the Appointment, Remuneration and Trading Company committees/board. 

Person Specification

  • Experience of a complex organisation of scale probably in the role of Chair or Director and with acknowledged success in a leadership role;
  • Ability to engage and influence senior stakeholders and partners across a range of sectors; 
  • Commitment to the Fringe and representing and being a public ambassador for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society;
  • Sound financial literacy, including prior experience in commercial income generation and/or fundraising/donor landscapes;  
  • Excellent communication, relationship-building and networking skills;
  • Good, independent judgement; 
  • A readiness and commitment to be a public ambassador for the Fringe and the Fringe Society.
  • A knowledge of, and passion for, the performing arts and the breadth and range of performance showcased at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. 
  • Knowledge of Scottish and or UK government cultural policy environment and funding mechanisms.
  • Knowledge and experience of ambitious fundraising campaigns and the donor environment for the arts.
  • Demonstrable knowledge of the opportunity that acceleration of digital development offers as a means of future-proofing the Festival in terms of an income channel and a global asset.


  • 03 February 2021 – formal application process opens.
  • 01 March– formal application process closes. 
  • 15 – 19 March– shortlisting and communication to candidates.
  • Week commencing March 22 – interviews. 
  • Week commencing March 29 – recommendation to the Board and formal appointment   
  • April 2021 – new chair announced to membership and general public. 

Process for appointment 

An open and public recruitment campaign will be undertaken, to ensure the Fringe Society reaches the widest range of potential candidates. This will also be circulated through board and stakeholder networks.  Informal conversations with the Chief Executive and/or outgoing Chair will be available for interested candidates.
Applicants should submit a CV and covering letter (approx. two pages), outlining their interest in the role and the suitability of their experience. Shortlisted candidates will be invited to an interview to discuss their application in March 2021.  
The committee will recommend their preferred candidate to the board in March 2021, and a formal appointment will take place in April 2021. 

download .pdf recruitment pack

Please email [email protected] or call +44 (0)131 226 0026 with any queries regarding the role or appointment process.

Application deadline: 1st March, 2021