What is Fringe, indeed?
The first ever Fringe festival began in Edinburgh, Scotland, back in 1947. Artists were upset about the city-curated Edinburgh Festival, feeling left out, and eight companies took it upon themselves to set up shop on the literal “fringe” of the festival and put up shows anyway. Today, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe hosts over 3,000 shows, over 50,000 performances in each festival! Genres range anywhere from theatrical drama, to stand-up comedy, musical storytelling, children’s shows, and so much more.
Here in North America, we have fringe festivals all over the US and Canada, and there is a touring circuit that many artists from all over the globe travel on, showing their unique takes on performance art. The frequently traveled circuit begins in May, in Orlando, where it has for over 25 years, leading North, up into Canada, and across that country until it finally heads south again towards the end of Summer. There are huge festivals in Minneapolis, MN and New York, and the biggest one is in Edmonton, Canada.
And now the Tampa International Fringe Festival, to kick-off the Fringe circuit!
All fringe festivals have things in common – a ton of shows, back to back in venues, with quick in’s and out’s and (usually) more minimal technical needs. A wide range of genre and subject material, mostly new work, but some classics as well. Dance is welcome. Mixed genre is welcome. Parties! People! Celebration and support of the arts in a way that is both economical for the audience and puts money in artists hands.
Our fringe will combine elements that we have experienced first hand from many festivals. We believe in an un-juried festival, where the artists are free to make the art of their choosing and it is only fate that decides whether they will be in the festival, not some group of judges that “knows better”. We’ll leave that to the reviewers! TIFF believes in the power of a good time, and in creating a community, with events each night that will bring us all together at our Fringe Central to talk about shows we liked, shows we loved, or shows we loathed, all together, artist and audience as one. We believe in exposure. That means exposure of local talents hitherto without the opportunity for expression to show off their art, and we believe in exposing audiences (that’s all of us) to the unique perspectives brought to us from our own township, and from other waters. And we believe that artists should get paid! So we believe in a lottery system to keep the choices random, but keep the numbers to a reasonable ratio with our prospective audience numbers.
That’s what Fringe is to us. Supporting each other. What is Fringe to you? Only one way to find out!