Underbelly (events promoter)
|Products||Theatre and comedy promotion, productions and Venues|
|Subsidiaries||Underbelly Promotions Limited|
Underbelly is a live events producer and venue operator, known as one of the "Big Four" venue operators at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. From its roots as a Fringe venue, the company has expanded to include a festival on London's South Bank and seasonal events in Edinburgh and elsewhere.
Underbelly was founded in 2000 by directors Ed Bartlam and Charlie Wood to operate one venue at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. In 2001, Underbelly Limited was formed to turn the Underbelly venue into a professional operation. The original venue, on Edinburgh's Cowgate, now includes a number of different performance spaces, with themed names such as Iron Belly, White Belly and Big Belly. Over the years, Underbelly's operations have expanded beyond the Cowgate, to include a hub space known as the Udderbelly pasture in George Square and a Circus Hub on The Meadows. For several years, Underbelly operated a hub in Bristo Square, but recent redevelopment works at the nearby McEwan Hall mean the site is currently unavailable. Each Underbelly venue is recognisable by its purple, cow-themed branding, most notably a large, upside-down, inflatable purple cow which serves as one of the venues. In 2015, Underbelly hosted over 130 shows at the Fringe.
Besides its Fringe operations, Underbelly also co-ordinates "Edinburgh's Christmas" - a funfair, market and events programme in Princes Street Gardens. In 2014, 3.6 million visitors were recorded.
In 2009, in collaboration with the Southbank Centre in London, the company launched Udderbelly Festival, an eight-week programme of comedy, circus and family entertainment inside the upside-down purple cow venue. By 2015, the festival had extended to fifteen weeks. The festival won Best Festival at the London Lifestyle Awards in 2012.
In 2012, Underbelly also launched London Wonderground, a programme of circus, cabaret and family entertainment, based in a 1920s Paradiso Spiegeltent. The Wonderground also presents oddities, curiosities and eccentricities such as the 60-metre high Star Flyer which gives views over London's rooftops.
Other London events which Underbelly produces include West End Live in Trafalgar Square, Pride in London, and the Rekorderlig Cider Lodge at Southbank Centre's Winter Festival. In 2015, Underbelly produced the official Fanzone at the Rugby Union World Cup in Richmond.
Performers who have appeared at Underbelly venues since 2000 include:
- Stewart Lee - co-writer / director of Jerry Springer - The Opera
- Waen Shepherd
- Will Adamsdale aka Chris John Jackson in Jackson's Way
- Rob Deering
- Lucy Porter
- Janey Godley
- Rain Pryor
- Robin Ince
- Russell Howard
- Howard Read
- Paul Provenza
- Ricky Tomlinson
- Topping & Butch
- Richard Herring
- Simon Bird
- Reginald D Hunter
- Phil Nicol
- Joan Rivers
- Frisky and Mannish
- The Thrills
- Ocean Colour Scene
- Tom Jones
- Mark Owen (of Take That)
- Tina Dico (formerly of Zero 7)
- Gwyneth Herbert
- Underbelly's website
- Underbelly's Smirnoff Underbelly website at the Wayback Machine (archived 23 July 2007)
- The Guardian article on Underbelly
- The Scotsman article on Underbelly
- Edinburgh Evening News article on Underbelly
- Official Edinburgh Fringe website
- Edinburgh Guide - news and reviews.
- Scotsman/Evening News reviews
- ThreeWeeks - comprehensive coverage of the Edinburgh Fringe and other festivals
- Official Edinburgh Comedy Festival website