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New digital ways of navigating the massive Edinburgh Festivals’ listings delight!

With over 2,500 shows this summer, and the collective of different festival brochures weighing in at c. 5kg, I think new service Fringe Master may well help those struggling with the choice/language/quality assurance barrier!This concierge/personal shopper approach is being trialled at the Edinburgh Festivals this summer. Fringe Master sorts you out with an itinerary for the day with 5 or more shows, based on a consultation with you, either in person, or online at http://www.fringemaster.co.uk. Says the website:”Fringe Master, Ben Stollery, and his team have extensive expertise in the arts, and are sifting through the listings and reviews, analysing the publicity material, attending previews and shows and calling upon a network of trusted contacts.”For £30, this could be just what the confused/massively indecisive need! 


Diane Ragsdale reports in her blog on the Nederlands Theatre Festival taking this idea one step further: they offer access to members of their board; performers and directors of the shows; the festival director and other theatre professionals – they can call you to help with decision making about what to see. A long-term advocate of giving customers extra value, says Diane:

“I’ve long thought that ‘concierge services’ are sorely needed in the live professional arts scene. One of the recurring themes from my talks at marketing conferences is that arts organizations could create greater value for their patrons by giving personalized advice aimed at helping people navigate the arts scene and make better purchase decisions. I’ve suggested that arts groups could use citywide arts and culture portals to do this (using a recommender system + patron reviews/comments + top picks by arts staff, artists, and culture vultures) or box office staff or volunteers specifically equipped to give such advice (via chat or telephone).

Never in my wildest dreams did I think that an arts organization might offer the director of its festival, or a member of the jury, or the actor or director associated with a particular show as the person to give such advice (except perhaps as a benefit to major donors and other VIPs, which I imagine happens on an ad hoc basis all the time). It’s certainly the first time I’ve encountered such a service for the general public.”

Many superb innovations this year have emerged from Culture Hack Scotland, organised by @Festivalslab and held in May with Edinburgh’s geek/tech/hacker community and cultural sector professionals, including many AmbITioners. Live and kicking: http://www.festafriend.com – helping you find a new friend or date to see a show with! The new Edinburgh International Book Festival mobile site was also developed  as an idea on that day, together with many more.