Friday Founder Flashback – Filing Playbills

Friday Founder Flashback – Filing Playbills

I‘m filing these by year, now, and wondering if I’m supposed to file them by the year of the commercial production or the show’s FringeNYC year? Regardless – thanks for inviting me, y’all!


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Friday Founder Flashback – 2010 Tickets

Friday Founder Flashback – 2010 Tickets

Each October, we go into the barn and pull out the boxes of box office envelopes from the festival that was seven years ago and throw away the tickets. You see, per our document retention policy and our agreement with our artists – we’re required to keep the ticket stubs and “deadwood” (unused tickets) for that length of time. It’s always a bit bittersweet for me. But it brings back some wonderful memories every time.


So this year, I went through about twenty boxes from 2010. What an amazing year! I have very specific memories for each of these shows, and more importantly, for all of these artists. And only three more years now – as FringeNYC ticketing went completely paperless in 2014, so there’s no more stubs or deadwood. I guess environmentally, that’s a good thing. Still – it’s kinda cool to get to put these in the scrapbook.

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FringeNYC 20/20: Why be our new home

FringeNYC 20/20: Why be our new home

Now that we’ve talked about why finding a longer term / smaller footprint home for the adjudicated section of FringeNYC is our goal, we wanted to discuss some of what we could potentially offer our venue partners / hosts. We know our new venue neighborhood or multiplex will need incentives, particularly for providing a home during October (when they are more likely to find rentals and / or be doing their own shows as a part of their season). And unfortunately, although we will certainly still pay a rental fee – we won’t be able to pay them double our usual fee or anything like that. Keep in mind we are doing a SMALLER festival, so we’ll already need to build a new funding model.



So here’s some of what we came up with in initial brainstorming about what we might offer our new venue home:
VENUE POOL PARTICIPATION – When we produced the First Annual New York International Fringe Festival in 1997, we operated entirely on earned income. Collectively, each of our $315 (I think that’s right. . . ) participation fees (along with a $5,000 NYSCA pass-through grant from ART/NY) added up to $74,000. So in order to secure venues, we put $1 from every ticket sold across the entire festival into a pot, and each of our venues got a share. Not a proportionate / based on size share, and not a share of only the tickets sold at their venue. There were 21 venues that year, so they each got 1/21th (twenty oneth?) of that pool. Back then, that was particularly brave of them (keep in mind we’d never done a fringe festival before, and we weren’t sure anyone would show up). These days, though, we can count on selling SOME tickets. And it’d be nice to have a venue home that was invested in our success as a community.

PROMOTION OF THE VENUE’S SHOWS – Throughout the year, many venues and producers would like to reach our audience to promote their shows. Eblasts, mailing list access, and our Amazonification (i.e. “if you liked this show, you’ll like this one” via the Find Your FringeNYC Quiz) could all be shared with our home venues.

PERCENTAGE OF SPONSORSHIP MONEY – It is very difficult to obtain sponsorships without knowing two years out where we’ll be and what we’re doing. Sponsors want a big gathering area – and we do, too, but in NYC that requires a street closure permit or large private outdoor space. Street closure permit applications are due a year in advance – and difficult to obtain (particularly for multi-day requests). If our venue home helps make a large gathering area possible, and allows us to lock in that location for three to five years – then that would perhaps make us more attractive to sponsors. So maybe our new long-term venue home should see financial benefit from those sponsorships as well!

VENUE SHOWS – In the first year (or two?) of the festival, our venue partners each got to put a “venue show” in the festival. If we’re going to be doing FringeNYC in October in one long-term venue home, then perhaps their October show could be part of the festival, as well. We’re often asked throughout the year to promote their season shows to our audience – why not introduce them to the kind of work that the venue home does as a part of FringeNYC? It’d be a great opportunity to brand the venue with our most loyal audience members and to build relationships under the “halo” of the festival.

CAREFUL SCHEDULING – We could, potentially, perform around their subscription show’s schedule in October. At least in 2018, if it made it possible to lock down a venue home neighborhood / multi-plex for three to five years. Perhaps their subscribers would receive special discounts to FringeNYC shows, too. And vice versa? Maybe our FringeNYC audience would want to purchase discounted single tickets to their subscription show.

Over the past decade, it seems to be the big brother and big sister theatres around town that want access to and a connection to our audience – and to our artists, as well. This would be a great way to show support of the next generation of makers.

AND MOST IMPORTANTLY – We will only have ONE Manhattan venue home for the adjudicated section of FringeNYC – either a multi-plex or venues all on one block, etc.  The BYOV (or VBYOA) section of the festival will ONLY be in boroughs other than Manhattan. So our new venue home becomes the defacto center of the indie universe during FringeNYC / Indie Theatre Week and all that FringeNYC 20/20 entails. 

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Friday Founder Flashback – Ghostlight

Friday Founder Flashback – Ghostlight

From January 19th, 2017 – The Ghostlight Project – this is what we stood with our community and said:

“We pledge to continue to provide a home for our disenfranchised friends – be they LGBTQ, immigrant, people of color, differently abled, women or just hungry for community, like the rest of us. We recognize that in order to truly be a place where ALL are welcome, and in order to try to understand WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED, we’re gonna have to open our hearts and minds. . .even to those with whom we strongly and passionately disagree. We MUST try to listen and find empathy. It will be hard. But we, of all people, know that hate is so often born of fear and pain – and we, of all people, know these things, too. We know fear. We know pain. And so we pledge to use our collective strength – our empathy and compassion and the power of our art – to reach for understanding. . . so that ALL are welcome.”

FringeNYC 20/20: We need a long term home

Okay, but WHERE? As you may have heard as a part of our FringeNYC 20/20 Announcement, starting in 2018, FringeNYC will include a smaller adjudicated festival – which will take place all in one block, area, or multi-venue complex for multiple years. There are many reasons for this, and we’ll definitely need some help to make it happen.


Some of the reasons we’ve made this our goal include:
An audience that knows where to find us (annually) will more likely (and easily) return
A smaller festival footprint will allow us to also consolidate staff / reduce actual hours per staff member
This will allow more experienced / mature staff to be able to continue to work with us and we’ll retain more institutional knowledge
Our Tech Director once reported they spent more time walking from venue to venue (when on call) than actually doing the job
Over time, we get to know the quirks of each area / neighbor / etc. and can build on this knowledge
We spend way too much of our staff time & very limited resources finding / negotiating contracts with venues
A long term relationship will make it more than a “rental” – we’re looking at more of a full partnership
We would get to know each building’s idiosyncrasies – and make them a “feature not a bug”
When we purchase specific equipment needed for each space, design specific soft goods, marley, etc. we could use it in the same location the following years (or even better: leave it at the venue to be used throughout the year)
We could invest / help fundraise for accessibility and other issues to be dealt with
Knowing where we’ll be years in advance would provide the required lead time for securing sponsors for extras like street closures, a gathering location / FringeLOUNGE, etc.
Photography of prior year’s events, etc. would be helpful in securing sponsors (as opposed to now, when we “start over” each year)
We would have accurate drawings / capacities / more likely to have accurate rep plots
Finding available, ground floor real estate for FringeCENTRAL / FringeLOUNGE has become impossible (Hoisted on our own petard – we feel like we INVENTED pop-up retail. . . )
We could utilize what we know about our spaces as a part of adjudication process
We could program our desired FringeAL FRESCO / Spectacle / Visual Art knowing where we’d be
In NYC, Street Closure permit applications are due the YEAR PRIOR, but you really want to request a street closure where your venues will be
We’d like to build longer term relationships with politicians, owners, and community boards – like when we were born, on the LES

There are many more reasons this makes sense for a festival. And we think there are plenty of reasons a group of venues or multiple venue complex would want to partner with us on this. We’ll discuss some of those in the next post.

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FringeNYC 20/20: We’ve decided WHEN

FringeNYC 20/20: We’ve decided WHEN

October! As you may have heard as a part of our FringeNYC 20/20 Announcement, starting in 2018, FringeNYC will take place annually in October!

As those of you who’ve been keeping up with this blog know, we’ve had a lot of discussions about WHEN. Suffice to say, every possible month on the calendar has some challenges. But here is our list of bottom line Pros and Cons that led to this decision:

There are no other NYC multi-arts festivals in NYC in October
There are no other US Association of Fringe Festivals festivals in October
There are no other World Fringe Alliance festivals in the majority of October (Cape Town Fringe ends in early October)
So World Fringe Alliance festival leaders could attend FringeNYC, as could their artists
We think this date shift will help cement us as the National Fringe Festival beginning in 2019
College students will be back in the city for college
October is not when the US Association of Fringe Festivals usually meets
IT’S NOT AS HOT as the summer (Air conditioning challenges utilize too much of our resources)
With students in school, we could partner with a university (or two) for internships, etc.
We could potentially share resources / collaborate with other summer festivals
Being in October makes FringeNYC like “Indie Theatre” Week (or 3 weeks) (following on the heels of Broadway Week and Off-Broadway Week)
It helps us focus attention on local indie venues and producers during their season, featuring their work
It could radically change our FringeJR & FringeHIGH programs as we are able to coord. w/schools, etc.

CONS (or what we prefer to call “challenges”)
It IS the middle of regular season programming, so our venue partners will need incentives (we have some ideas)
College students will be back in the city for college – this is both a pro and a con – will NEED to partner with a university for interns
October is when Hurricane Sandy happened (August is when Irene and the Earthquake happened, though, so. . . )
Jewish Holidays fall during October, which will make attendance on some nights difficult for some (the same is true for Sabbath performances throughout the year, though).

So – on to meeting these challenges and finding a WHERE to go with our WHEN!

What do you think? Are there other pros and cons we may have overlooked?

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Calendar of Fringes

Here is a calendar that shows the fringe festivals in the United States, the World Fringe Alliance festivals, and SOME of the performing arts festivals in NYC!





Friday Founder Flashback – FringeFANS!

Here’s some fringe fans showing us how it’s done – and reminding us of WHY fans come all the way from Arkansas! Thanks, Carl & Jackie!






Hypothesis – Fringe Movement in the U.S.

Hypothesis – Fringe Movement in the U.S.

This is a movement! We’re so happy to celebrate World Fringe Day with our fellow fringes across the globe. The FIRST fringe – Edinburgh Festival Fringe – is celebrating their 70th birthday as we celebrate our 20th! And in Canada, the CAFF (Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals) festivals are essentially Canada’s national theatre.

But fear not – there is a strong fringe movement in this country, too. Above is a chart tracking the number of US Association of Fringe Festival member fringes born in each year in the U.S. – and here they are by name!



What I Love about Fringe

What I Love about Fringe

In celebration of World Fringe Day – tell us what you love about FringeNYC, or any other fringe! YOU may win a pair of tickets to

FringeNYC 20/20  – Sunday, August 20th

celebrating FringeNYC’s first twenty years, and announcing FringeNYC’s future.

Just click the button below to make your video. You’ll have to enter your name / email.

#WorldFringeDay  #Fringe70   #FringeNYC20

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Celebrating FringeNYC’s 20th Anniversary and building our future!

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