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Stroud Fringe is celebrating 21 years of bringing music and mayhem to the Cotswold town. We caught up with organisers Charlotte (Lotte) Lyster and Julie Howe to find out more…
Happy 21st Anniversary! Tell us about the history of Stroud Fringe.
Lotte: It is indeed the 21st birthday of Stroud Fringe, and Julie and I are delighted to be organising Stroud’s biggest party of the year! There have been lots of wonderful people and committees running it over the years, including local clog dancing troupe, Roughshod, who did a fabulous job. Many previous organisers have gone on to run other festivals and events – my mentor has been Sue Torres who now runs Wicked Events and is a director of the Association of Festival Organisers.
How long have you been involved with Stroud Fringe?
Lotte: I’ve been on the periphery of the Fringe for quite a few years, running bars as The Prince Albert and sponsoring and booking the bands for a stage one year. It was only natural to take on the whole shebang when the committee stepped down after the 2014 festival.
Julie: This is our third year running the Fringe now, along with lots of amazing volunteers.
How is the Fringe funded?
Julie: The festival costs nearly £100k a year to run and we raise some of that through sponsorships, grants and donations. We sell Stroud Fringe merchandise and eco-cups to help raise revenue, and there’s a ‘donate’ button on our website so that the public can support us, too.
Lotte: We now run all the bars as Stroud Fringe so that 100% of the profits are ploughed straight back into running the festival. We’ll be out with donation buckets over the weekend too, and every pound counts!
What changes have you seen over the years?
Lotte: In its early days the Fringe was more of a folk and dance festival and it’s changed many times over the years. Since we’ve been running the Fringe we’ve tried really hard to make sure there’s something for everyone. Although I’ve got a personal ambition to introduce a tea dance in the future, so if anyone out there fancies running one give us a shout!
Julie: It used to be a ticketed festival but one of the commitments we made was to make it a totally free festival. It’s now a family-friendly event made up of six stages, children’s workshops, street theatre… everything, really!
Any interesting stories you can tell us about previous years – both good and bad?!
Julie: We were struck by lightning last year! Well, it hit St Laurence’s church steeple to be precise. It was the loudest bang I’ve ever heard, all the sound gear had to be turned off