U.S. Fringe producers’ meeting

Okay, so we’ve been a little terrible about updating our staff blog since the festival ended in August. And by “we,” I mean “I.” Apologies, people, learn to accept them.

So! Jeff Larson (our Production and Sponsorship Director), Robin Gillette (our Executive Director) and I (our Communications Director) went to Washington, D.C., last weekend for a meeting open to United States Fringe producers/staff. Hosted by the Capital Fringe, also present were Orlando, Kansas City, New York City, Woodstock (N.Y.), New Orleans and NYC’s Frigid Festival. There are actually loads more U.S. Fringes out there, but not everyone could come (sad!).

Three days of brainstorming and comparing and contrasting the inner workings of our worlds were kind of a lot of fun. The meeting was at Capital Fringe’s HQ, a gigantor building that was a restaurant for years and years and years (and had the rat problems to prove it… Jeff’s counterpart in D.C., Scott, was also in charge of the rats… their removal, not as their political leader or anything).

Mostly, the discussion would have bored anyone who isn’t employed as a higher-level Fringe staff member somewhere in the U.S., so I’ll skip details. But the three of us representing Minnesota walked away with many interesting ideas to steal adopt from our festival-organizing brethren. Fringolution: watch for it!

Minnesota’s Fringe is one of the oldest and biggest in the U.S.—the other wizened festivals are Orlando and New York City—and we’re one of the founders of the meeting (Minneapolis was the first host of a U.S. Fringe meeting, even) and Robin is generally responsible for making first contact with any new Fringe we find out about. But how Fringes in the U.S. operate is entirely up to each individual organization and there are no trademark restrictions on using the word “Fringe” for a performance festival—every city has the festival that its arts community (and market) best sustains.

Since there are no legal restrictions on the name, it sometimes comes as a surprise to us when we find out someone’s been putting on a Fringe for, say, three years without the rest of us knowing about it. And since these festivals have been breaking out like a pox all over America, I’m volunteering (as is my wont) to develop a basic site tracking all the Fringes: fringefestivals.us. Whee!

Apart from that… Ummm… We talked about accounting software some. And how we handle ticketing. And exchanged stories of victory, defeat and insanity. And exchanged T-shirts, buttons and programs.

And then Jeff, Robin and I had Chinese food, saw the Supreme Court and had drinks.

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