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The History of The Tap Water Awards

The Tap Water Awards are not about comedy or comedians; the only link is that they were set up after the media became aware of the Bongo Club’s decision not to participate in the Perrier Comedy awards in 2001. This boycott culminated in the creation of the Tap Water Awards. The concept was launched at the end of the 2001 Fringe Festival to highlight the fact that Perrier was owned by Nestlé the manufacturer of baby milk substitutes in developing countries.

According to Baby Milk Action, Nestlé’s marketing of breast milk substitutes discourages breast-feeding and contributes to infant malnutrition and death. UNICEF and the WHO estimate that one and a half million babies die each year because they are not breastfed. The level of media attention and public support this statement attracted indicated widespread interest in the idea. For more information check out: www.babymilkaction.org.

Those who thought that the furore surrounding the Perrier/Nestlé boycott in 2001 was a one-off, were in for a shock. In 2002, the Tap Water Awards, again, generated a large amount of publicity for both the venue and participating performers, featuring on the BBC and Liquid TV and in the Independent on Sunday, Glasgow Herald, The Guardian, and many other media outlets.

The focus of the awards was broadened to publicise the growing threat posed by privatisation of water and sanitation. Again, Nestlé and Perrier are implicated: The bottled water industry and private utility companies arguably, and increasingly, control access to clean water and discourage government investment in the public water supply.

The success of the Tap Water Awards continued the following year with a sell out crowd attending the 2003 award ceremony. The 2003 winners were presented with their Tap Trophies by Mark Ballard MSP (Scottish Green Party). On being invited to present the awards Mark Ballard said:

"To me the Tap Water Awards are what the Fringe should be about - a celebration of artistic creativity and original performances, not expensive, over-hyped, corporate career-mongering. The Perrier Awards now symbolise the corporate fringe - dominated by big players and sponsored by some fairly dodgy corporations. Nestlé can't be allowed to laugh off their appalling record in the third world by sponsoring a comedy award. That's why, as a representative of the people of Edinburgh I'm pleased be involved with this year's Tap Water Awards."


Supporters of the International Nestlé Boycott

The International Nestlé boycott is supported in the UK by over 100 church, health and consumer groups, over 90 businesses, 78 Students Union (including Edinburgh University students unions), 17 local authorities, 12 Trade Unions plus political parties including the Scottish National Party, The Liberal Democrats and numerous Constituency Labour Parties. Celebrity support includes Tony Benn, Rik Mayall, Richard E. Grant, Jane Asher, Tony Robinson, Germaine Greer, Gerald Scarf, Lyn Faulds Wood, Emma Thompson, Mark Thomas, Rob Newman and bands such as Pulp, Dodgy, Cast, Ocean Colour Scene, Shed 7 and Ian Brown.