The Edinburgh Festival Fringe (The Fringe) is the world's largest arts festival, with the 2012 event spanning 25 days totalling over 2,695 shows from 47 countries in 279 venues. Established in 1947 as an alternative to the Edinburgh International Festival, it takes place annually in Scotland's capital, in the month of August. The Fringe is a showcase for the performing arts, particularly theatre and comedy (which has seen substantial growth in recent years), although dance and music are also represented. In 2012, 36% of shows were comedy and 28% theatrical productions. Theatrical productions range from the classics of ancient Greece to William Shakespeare, Samuel Beckett and contemporary works. In 2012, 1,418 shows were having their world premiere.
The Fringe is an unjuried festival – with no selection committee, and therefore any type of performance may participate. The Fringe has often showcased experimental works that might not be invited to a more conservative arts festival. In addition to ticketed, programmed events, the Festival has included a street fair, located primarily on the Royal Mile. The Festival is organized by the Festival Fringe Society, which publishes the programme, sells tickets, and offers advice to performers. Their offices are on the Royal Mile.
The Board of Directors is drawn from members of the Festival Fringe Society, who are often Fringe participants themselves - performers or administrators. Elections are held once a year, in August, and Board members serve a term of three years. The Board appoints the Fringe CEO (formerly known as the Fringe Administrator or Director) and operates under the chairmanship of a well-known public personality. The first chairman was Lord Grant, a High Court judge, who gave way in 1970 to the actor Andrew Cruikshank. He was succeeded in 1983, by Dr. Jonathan Miller, and then by Elizabeth Smith, Baroness Smith (widow of former Labour Leader John Smith).