For information about the Fringe Performance Archive, please contact Dr. Wesley Shrum, Director of the Archive and Professor at Louisiana State University (126 Stubbs Hall, Department of Sociology, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70803 USA) or email:

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe began after the Second World War. On the 50th anniversary of the Fringe, Princeton University Press published Dr. Shrum’s book on the history, sociology, and theory of the largest arts festival in the world: Fringe and Fortune: The Role of Critics in High and Popular Art, Princeton University Press, 1996). This scholarly treatment employs qualitative interviews, documents, and statistical methods to examine the evolution of the Fringe and the diversity of performance genres. Fringe and Fortune proposes a theory of cultural mediation that explains the difference between high and popular art through the relationships between artists, audiences, and critics.

Author Note: While I had used recording and sampling on a festival project in the early 1990s, the cost, size, and complexity of video technology at the time was such that I never considered filming during the eight years I studied the Fringe and worked on the book. What happened to the technology of video acquisition and production in the late 1990s represents a dramatic shift in the possibilities for the preservation of human events, particularly in the world of artistic innovation. While new and significant venues have emerged in recent years, the overall structure of the Fringe has not changed since the 1980s. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is an astonishing human accomplishment representing the best of our global artistic heritage. The new millennium is an ideal time to begin recording and preservation for future generations of students, artists, and historians.

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