Festival Models – Curated

There are several ways that festivals (both fringe festivals and other NYC festivals) determine the line-up of artists / shows for their festival. Over the next weeks we’ll be exploring some of these methods as a part of the blank canvas project.

Although not employed by any fringe festivals that we know of, here in NYC it’s important that we at least mention the Curated model, so that we can compare and contract our NYC festival with other NYC festivals. To us, for purposes of this blank canvas project, “curated” festivals are those that do not accept unsolicited applications at all. In other words, these are festivals that are curated in much the same way as an Artistic Director curates a regular season of shows at a subscription theatre.

This is how the majority of the larger more prestigious non-fringe festivals across the city are programmed> In New York, though, this doesn’t mean that they aren’t programming innovative work and emerging artists. Quite the opposite, they sometimes have the resources to bring some of the most experimental and large-scale work to the U.S. for all of us to enjoy. How do these curated festivals affect what NYC needs from a fringe festival in 2018 and beyond? Should FringeNYC be the “fringe” / alternative option to these festivals? Keep reading – and join us at a convening to discuss this topic!



NYC Festivals Models & Size Comparison Chart

We’ll track some of the festivals that take place in NYC on the below chart – noting when they take place, how old they are, and what model is used for programming the artists / shows. If the festival is adjudicated or First Come First Serve / Lottery (i.e. anyone can apply to participate), we’ll be comparing the application & participation fees on a separate post. Stay tuned, we’ll update this post as we learn more. Got a comment or correction? Please comment below!


Festival Models – First Come First Serve / Lottery!

There are several ways that festivals (both fringe festivals and other NYC festivals) determine the line-up of artists / shows for their festival. Over the next weeks we’ll be exploring some of these methods as a part of the blank canvas project.



Today we’ll talk about the most popular method for our neighbors to the North (Canada), which is also shared by several of the oldest fringe festivals in this country, too! It’s the First Come, First Served method – where artists apply and the first applications received (be they hand delivered or arriving via mail or digitally) are the shows that will be a part of the festival.

Often, though, after several years of this method – it becomes too chaotic to manage. So then many festivals turn to the Lottery model – where applications are accepted for a certain period of time, and then participants are chosen from that applicant pool via a drawing. Some festivals make an evening of the drawing – with artists and audience member able to observe and get excited about the line up.

This method obviously has many advantages and disadvantages. It allows the festival producers to control the SIZE of the festival (as opposed to the Open Access / BYOV method). But does it limit the marketing assistance that can be provided, when the festival team knows nothing about the show? What effect does the randomness have on diversity? We’ll ask some fellow fringe festivals to learn more – and discuss at our Convening on April 12th. Join us there – and let us know your thoughts below!



Hypothesis – When it’s hotter we sell fewer tickets. . .

Hypothesis – When it’s hotter we sell fewer tickets. . .

So when it IS hotter, do we sell fewer tickets? Here’s what Christian found:



  • Our 5 hottest years on record : 2016, 2015, 2005, 2002 & 2001
  • Our 5 smallest festival audiences : 2016, 2015, 2003, 2002 & 2001
  • The data illustrates that of the 5 extremes, 4 of them directly correlate (2001,2002, 2015 & 2016)
  • 2003 does show a relationship between temperature and ticket sales while 2005 seems to be an anomaly:
    • We can identify that 2003’s sales are generally following an upward trend (that stems from 2001 to 2006)
    • Additionally as we see the effects of El Niño decrease from 2002 to 2003, ticket sales did rise by around 6,000, this could be attributed to other factors (like overall sales rising over a 5 year period) but a relationship could also be observed
    • 2005 seems to be the key anomaly, it does not appear as an El Niño year by the National Weather Center but it’s our hottest year on record at 90 degrees. However while ticket sales remained healthy, it should be noted that there was a dip from the year prior and the one after, while the temperature also shifted, therefore a relationship can be observed as illustrated in the graph above
  • No high selling year (2004, 2006, 2009, 2010 & 2011) has an average temperature above 85 degrees

While year to year relatively small rises and falls in temperature do not appear to actively affect our ticket sales, as illustrated from 2009 to 2011, there is an observable relationship between ticket sales and temperatures in the high extremes. One can conclude that while lower temperatures do not positively affect our ticket sales, that higher temperatures do negatively affect our overall sales. It appears that once we hit a festival average of above 85 degrees we not only face a decrease in ticket sales but also have issues with venues being able to keep air conditioning units functioning. With the exception of 2005, we can also assert that forecasts of El Niño Peak years will have a negative impact on our sales. While it is impossible to predict the weather with enough advance to properly alter our festival dates year by year an argument can be made, as illustrated in the graph from 2004 to 2006 and moreso from 2014 to 2016, that our audience is on average much more hesitant to purchase tickets when the average festival temperature rises over 85 degrees.


Hypothesis – It’s getting hotter. . .

Hypothesis – It’s getting hotter. . .

Or so I thought. Even when I made Christian remove the peak El Nino and La Nina years – it’s really just not the case. Hrmph. But the last two years HAVE been pretty hot. . .



Our 5 hottest years on record (above 85 degrees): 2016, 2015, 2005, 2002 & 2001
Our 5 lowest temperature years (below 78 degrees): 2011, 2000, 1999, 1998 & 1997 (to be clear – it’s a darned good thing it was cooler outside in the first three years of the festival, since we didn’t have a lot of air conditioned spaces)
The data illustrates that of these extremes the earliest four years of the festival were in fact the coolest, while the last two years have been among the warmest
The hottest year on record was 2005
The warmest 5 year period was from 2001 to 2005
El Niño peak, with the exception of 2005, correlates with our hottest years on record (2002, 2015 & 2016) while La Niña peak correlates with the coolest years (2000 & 2011.)

While it is generally scientifically accepted that the Earth’s temperatures are rising, and while the last two years on record have been among the hottest in our festival history, this data does not generally support the idea that our festival itself is experiencing a consistent rise in temperature. While the earliest years were our coolest years and our last two years were among the warmest, the graph illustrates a shift in temperatures over the years in cycles generally tied to weather changes like El Niño. It can be argued that the peaks and rises in temperature are getting slightly higher overall but it should be noted that both the record high (2005) and the record low (2000) were in the earlier part of our history. So we are led to conclude that while scientifically the earth is getting warmer and that while our first four years are cooler and our last two years are hotter, the major peaks in temperature in our eleven to sixteen festival days over a twenty year period appear to be cyclical, for example hotter years like 2015-2016 were preceded by moderate years 2011-2014; hotter years like 2009-2010 were preceded by moderate years 2006-2008, and hotter years like 2001-2002 were preceded by cooler years 1997-2000.

Here’s the graph with the El Niño and La Niña peak years removed.



CONVENINGS – Wednesday March 22nd & 29th at 6:30pm

CONVENINGS – Wednesday March 22nd & 29th at 6:30pm

Topic: The Open Access / Edinburgh / BYOV Model. Would it work in NYC? If so, how? How does participating in an open access festival differ from an adjudicated festival where the venue / staff are provided? Have you participated in an Open Access festival? Please join us, we need to hear from you! CLICK HERE FOR CONVENING INFO





US & World Fringe Festivals – Open Access / BYOV Fees

Most Open Access / BYOV festivals charge participation fees – like any other programming model festival. Some also participate in box office income. On this post we’ll list some Open Access festivals in the U.S. and their participation fees, as well as what the NYC Equivalent fee would be, per cost of living. We’ll also track some international festivals in the same way – first converting the fee to US Dollars, and then using the same cost of living adjustment (based on www.numbeo.com). We’ll update this post as we learn more!

*The only BYOV option offered at Minnesota Fringe is Site Specific.

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