Richard Stamp, Fringe Guru’s co-founder and editor, writes:
Today we’re announcing that Fringe Guru and The Wee Review are joining forces at the Edinburgh Fringe. We’ll be running a single team of reviewers with a single editorial policy, and we’ll be publishing our coverage on The Wee Review’s website.
For Fringe Guru, this is the next step in a journey which started back in 2007. We’ve been honoured to earn many friends and supporters during that time - and I know that today’s news will come as a surprise to some of them. So with this unashamedly personal note, I’m explaining why I’m excited about this move... and why I hope you might be excited too.
At a crossroads
For the last couple of years, Fringe Guru has been at a crossroads. We’d grown too large for a couple of people to run in their spare time, yet we were still too small to justify a full-blown editorial staff. We have a fantastic team of reviewers, but almost everything that happened behind the scenes depended on me (or on Dave Court, my co-founder and technical guru).
And if I’m honest, after fourteen years, I need a change. We all get jaded when do the same thing over and over again. I never forget just how privileged we are as reviewers, and I owe it to the companies who so generously accommodate us to make sure I’m not just turning a handle.
I have plenty of ideas for what I’d like to do next - both new types of coverage, and behind-the-scenes tweaks to help us review more work more promptly. But it’s hard to find time for innovation when you’re also running the show. By joining forces with The Wee Review, we can pool our efforts on admin - freeing more time to build our coverage, and for some of the creative improvements I’ve been dying to make.
If you live outside Scotland, you may not be familiar with The Wee Review. But over the last few years it’s emerged as a leading cultural website north of the Border, covering a full range of art-forms, across the country and throughout the year.
I’ve always admired The Wee Review’s Fringe coverage. They share Fringe Guru’s priorities: championing smaller venues, fiercely defending their independence, and backing up their reviewers with consistent policies and editorial control. They published their editorial guidelines online last year, and there was a hair’s-breadth of difference between theirs and ours. That’s when I got in touch with their Managing Editor, Robert Peacock, and began to discuss a link-up.
Just as importantly for me, The Wee Review has a stable team of reviewers who come back year after year - and it treats them well. In fact, several of Fringe Guru’s reviewers write for The Wee Review too, and I’ve heard nothing but praise for their ethos and integrity.
What’s in a name?
For the first year or two, The Wee Review will use Fringe Guru’s name and logo as part of its Fringe coverage. We hope that’ll help the Fringe community get familiar with the change, and emphasise that at Fringe time, this is a merger of equals.
But in the long term, it makes no sense to have two names - and since our combined operation will cover much more than just the Fringe, it’s The Wee Review’s title we’ll be settling on.
Of course I’m sad to see Fringe Guru’s brand fading out in Edinburgh, but Fringe Guru is much more than just its name. The skills, experience and reputation we’ve built will carry on, as an integral part of something bigger and better.
Towards the future
Some change is good and some change is bad, but being scared of change is worst of all. We’ve made a bold decision to join forces with The Wee Review in Edinburgh, and I’m excited to see where it leads us.
As always, I’m both humbled and grateful about how many performers invite us to review their shows. If you’re bringing a show to Edinburgh, and particularly if you’ve already sent us a press release, we have some information about what the merger means for you.
Here’s to an exhilarating August.