Shaftesbury’s Fringe Benefits Business

Shaftesbury’s Fringe Festival is good for the local economy. That’s according to business owners who hosted performances during this summer’s three-day programme of music, theatre and comedy.

Hundreds of people attended the second annual Shaftesbury Fringe, between 30th June and 2nd July.

John Morgan says the Fringe made a positive difference at his café bar, Angola 76. We were, “exceptionally rammed,” he said, adding that he’ll be increasing his bar capacity for Fringe 2018. “I want Fringe every weekend!” joked John.

He believes that Shaftesbury Fringe is giving Frome and Bruton, “a run for their money.” Before Fringe, he felt that the Somerset towns’ arts events had, “stolen a march on Shaftesbury.” John said that he is, “very proud of Shaftesbury for doing such a good job,” with Fringe.

The Ye Old Two Brewers’ large beer garden provided the perfect band performance venue and landlady Sally Francis said Fringe was “great” for her business. “We were extremely busy.”

Sally believes this year’s event attracted many visitors from outside the area. “I think the Fringe brought a lot more people into town. Many people turned up with programmes,” Sally said. “Anything that brings tourists in to see our lovely part of the world is good,” Sally added.

Vicki Hudson manages The Mitre Inn. Vicki noticed that many customers attending the Fringe performances in the pub’s Valley View back room weren’t locals. “I do think it was our busiest weekend of the year,” Vicki said.

Swans Yard manager Dave Martin has credited Fringe for, “the biggest and best weekend I have seen in the yard in 15 years.” Dave says he has no doubt that the festival is good for Shaftesbury. “Saturdays are usually our quieter day but during Fringe you could feel the buzz in town. The cafe here was full from 9.30am until 5.30pm. We had great bands and superb footfall. I can’t praise it enough,” Dave said.

An estate agent’s office might not be an obvious live music venue, but Richard Keenlyside, director of Gilyard Scarth, says he was pleased to offer a performance space and was “delighted” by the feedback he’s received following Anne-Louise Richards’ gig.

Richard says he’s been told that his impressive Victorian building offers excellent acoustics. “People were standing outside, too,” Richard said. Next year, he says he’ll arrange additional seating.

Richard’s firm also sponsors the Fringe signage. “We support the Fringe, which supports the town, which then supports business. It’s all interconnected,” Richard said.

Natalie Evans, Co-Chair of Shaftesbury Fringe 2018 Committee says she really appreciates the feedback from the business community. “Our team are all volunteers who are passionate about our incredible town. We want to showcase Shaftesbury and also support local businesses. It is the best way to ensure our town remains a vibrant community and a wonderful place to live and work.”

Natalie said she’d love to talk with any businesses that would like to be part of next year’s Shaftesbury Fringe, taking place from 29th June to 1st July 2018. You can contact her on natalie@shaftesburyfringe.co.uk.