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The Edinburgh Festival Fringe (The Fringe) is the world's largest arts festival, which in 2016 spanned 25 days and featured 50,266 performances of 3,269 shows in 294 venues. Established in 1947 as an alternative to the Edinburgh International Festival, it takes place annually in Edinburgh, Scotland, in the month of August
It is an open access performing arts festival, meaning there is no selection committee, and anyone may participate, with any type of performance. The official Fringe Programme categorises shows into sections for theatre, comedy, dance, physical theatre, circus, cabaret, children's shows, musicals, opera, music, spoken word, exhibitions and events. Comedy is the largest section and the one that in modern times has the highest public profile, due in part to the Edinburgh Comedy Awards.
The Festival is supported by the Festival Fringe Society, which publishes the programme, sells tickets to all events from a central physical box office and website, and offers year-round advice and support to performers. The Society's permanent location is at the Fringe Shop on the Royal Mile, and in August they also manage Fringe Central, a separate collection of spaces in Appleton Tower and other University of Edinburgh buildings, dedicated to providing support for Fringe participants during their time at the festival.
The Fringe 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 four years. The Board appoints the Fringe Chief Executive (formerly known as the Fringe Administrator or Director), who is currently Shona McCarthy and assumed the role in March 2016. The Chief Executive operates under the chair, currently Professor Sir Timothy O'Shea.
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