Thursday Thanks – Our Volunteers

Thursday Thanks – Our Volunteers

Mardi, a long time volunteer, writes to thank US (and encloses a very generous donation). So finally, here’s a time to say. . . thank YOU, Mardi.



Friday Founder Flashback – Vitamin C

Friday Founder Flashback – Vitamin C

In 1997, during the first festival, I was sitting at my desk. . . which was in the front window of The Piano Store on Ludlow Street. Everyone else was either answering phones, selling tickets, or just running around putting out fires. Sometimes literally. We were all exhausted, hot, malnourished, sleep deprived, anxious and frankly – wondering if we’d survive.

It was at this point that Stefan, one of our founding tech directors, ran through the front door of FringeCENTRAL. And without uttering a word, he plunked down a bottle of Vitamin C on my desk. We made eye contact, and smiled, and then he left as quickly as he’d come. We didn’t exchange a single word.

Here he was, taking care of everyone else – and yet he’d imparted a really important bit of Stefan wisdom in a very Stefan way in that moment: It’d be impossible to take care of our artists if we didn’t first take care of ourselves. I still have the bottle of Vitamin C. . . . .



World Fringe Festivals – February

We’re pleased to feature fellow members of the World Fringe Alliance as a part of the blog. We’ll discuss more about how, when, where, and why they take place so that we can take note as we build the FringeNYC of the future. Have you visited or participated in this festival? Please comment below!


Adelaide Fringe – Adelaide, Australia
Adelaide Fringe was born 56 years ago and is the Southern Hemisphere’s largest open access arts festival! It completely takes over Adelaide for 31 days and nights each year. In 2017 the festival is from 17 February – 19 March and if you ask anyone who’s ever been lucky enough to experience the Fringe, they’ll tell you themselves that it’s the best time of year to be in Adelaide.

US Fringe Festivals – February & March

We’re pleased to feature fellow members of the US Association of Fringe Festivals as a part of the blog. We’ll discuss more about how, when, where, and why they take place so that we can take note as we build the FringeNYC of the future. Have you visited or participated in these festivals? Please comment below!

FRIGID New York – New York, NY
FRIGID is New York City’s own CAFF model festival, produced by our friends at Horse Trade. FRIGID is 2 Theaters, 3 Weeks, 12 Days, and 30 independent theater companies with over 150 performances.

Rogue Festival – Fresno, CA
Rogue Festival is one of California’s biggest arts events and will celebrate it’s sixteenth anniversary this year. At Rogue, no show is longer than 1 hour, intermissions between shows are only a half-hour, and most Rogue shows cost $10 or less! In 2015 over its ten day run, the festival issued over 9,400 tickets to 294 performances of 68 shows.

Pittsburgh Fringe Festival – Pittsburgh, PA
In 2017, Pittsburgh Fringe Festival will celebrate its fourth anniversary! This year it will be held in the North Side of Pittsburgh and the festival begins on March 31st.


US Fringe Festivals – Ticket Price Ticker

As fellow USAFF (US Association of Fringe Festival) member festivals happen in 2017, we’re going to take a look at what their ticket prices are – and how they compare to ticket prices for FringeNYC over the years. We’ll update this post throughout the year.

Keep in mind that if ticket prices vary, we’ll use the median full-priced general admission price for this chart. Also keep in mind that some festivals (particularly the CAFF model festivals) sometimes require a patron to purchase a ticket AND a button or wristband. We’re not taking this into account at all. It’s difficult to nail down what the “apples to apples” of a button / wristband would be (because you only need to purchase ONE button or wristband for your entire festival-going experience; one button or wristband admits you to all of the shows for which you’ve purchased a ticket). This chart also has nothing to do with how / whether ticket income is split with the artist vs what the participation fee is for the festival vs what festival provides as far as the venue, staff, services, etc. Those things will be covered in other posts. This is purely a comparison of ticket prices of fellow fringe festivals, and what the equivalent ticket price would be in New York City (based on the cost of living comparison here.)


USAFF Festival City and State Ticket Price NYC Equivalent
Asheville Fringe Arts Festival  Asheville, NC  $13  $29.58
Maui Fringe Festival  Maui, HI  $10  $12.20
Tucson Fringe Festival  Tucson, AZ  $10 (+ $3 button)  $24.00
O’ahu Fringe  O’ahu, HI  $10  $12.20
FRIGID New York  New York, NY  $18  $18.00
Rogue Festival  Fresno, CA  $10 (+ $3 wristband)  $21.08
Pittsburgh Fringe Festival  Pittsburgh, PA  $15  $34.20
Shenandoah Fringe  Staunton, VA  $10 (+ $5 button)  $23.97

US Fringe Festivals – January

We’re pleased to feature fellow members of the US Association of Fringe Festivals as a part of the blog. We’ll discuss more about how, when, where, and why they take place so that we can take note as we build the FringeNYC of the future. Have you visited or participated in these festivals? Please comment below!

Asheville Fringe Arts Festival – Asheville, NC
An annual performing arts, multiple venue festival that provides artists with opportunities to explore the edges of their work, to collaborate across genres and to bring new and innovative performances to culturally adventurous audiences. Founded in 2002, AFAF has been keeping Asheville interesting for over a decade.

Maui Fringe Festival – Maui, HI
A three-day marathon of performing arts brought to life by local playwrights, writers, actors and directors as well as visiting ones, these little plays with big ideas give audiences a taste of creativity that doesn’t normally have an outlet.

Tucson Fringe Festival – Tucson, AZ
The Tucson Fringe Festival is an unjuried, uncensored performing arts festival that features 4 Venues, 3 Days, and 21 Shows!

O’ahu Fringe – O’ahu, HI
O’ahu Fringe celebrated its fifth year with 28 performances, 4 venues, and 4 days of fringey fun!


Deja NEWS – January

When we started to conceive how a fringe festival might work in New York, it was the mid 1990’s. And since most of us were in our mid to late twenties, we’d spent the majority of our lives with the National Endowment of the Arts under threat. So we made the decision early on that we’d create a festival that ran almost entirely on earned income (as opposed to donated money) and used secured income (money in the bank, rather than counting on ticket sales) that first year. There were a couple of reasons for this:



1) We were pretty convinced that nobody was going to buy a ticket (and that we’d all see each others’ shows, have a great time, and then go back to our dayjobs in September and not be financially devastated). We went into the first festival wit $74,000 in the bank – and the budget for the first festival was $74,000.

2) Because of the state of arts funding in the country, we were convinced that it was unlikely that funding would be available in that first year, much less in future years. If we had waited until we had funding before we did the first festival, we’d STILL be waiting for the “First Annual” FringeNYC to happen.

Now, as we begin this blank canvas project in order to determine how to structure the budget and funding for FringeNYC in 2018 and beyond, it’s Deja News – with the possibility that the National Endowment for the Arts may be eliminated. The Clyde Fitch Report called it quite early. . .

We’re fortunate that we’ve operated primarily on earned income in our first twenty years:

So what do you think – should the future FringeNYC operate on earned income, as well? If we’d need to raise ticket prices and/or participation fees in order to make that happen, is that the smartest way to go?


World Fringe Festivals – January

We’re pleased to feature fellow members of the World Fringe Alliance as a part of the blog. We’ll discuss more about how, when, where, and why they take place so that we can take note as we build the FringeNYC of the future. Have you visited or participated in this festival? Please comment below!

Fringe World Festival – Perth, Australia
Fringe is a special time of year in Perth. After the summer holidays have ended, FRINGE WORLD keeps the good summer vibes going for 31 days of Perthect entertainment. The 2017 FRINGE WORLD Festival is happening from 20 January to 19 February 2017, in Perth, Western Australia during the city’s buzzing summer festival period.

A tidbit about this festival: They actually OWN their spiegeltent (The Pearl) which is in the central hub of the festival. This purchase was made possible by their biggest sponsor, Lotterywest (the lottery of Western Australia) in 2011 when the Perth Fringe was reborn.


NYC Festivals – January

As part of the Blank Canvas Project, we look forward to featuring other NYC festivals and learning more about how, when, where, and why they take place so that we can take note as we build the FringeNYC of the future. These are the performing arts festivals we know of that take place in January in NYC (along with brief descriptions from their websites). If you know of others, please comment below!

COIL – January 3rd – 17th
Performance Space 122’s Coil Festival explores the vitality of live performance in New York City through contemporary artists from diverse genres, cultures, and perspectives. Full of inquisitive and dynamic work created locally, across the US, and around the world.

EXPONENTIAL – January 4th – 31st
A multi-week festival that seeks to promote theatrical performances created in New York and presented across Brooklyn.

PROTOTYPE – January 5th – 15th
The premier festival of opera-theatre and music-theatre.

THE FIRE THIS TIME – January 16th – February 5th
Horse Trade Theater Group and The Fire This Time Festival provide a platform for talented early-career playwrights of African and African American descent to explore challenging new directions for 21st century theater.

UNDER THE RADAR – January 4th – 15th
A festival tracking new theater from around the world at The Public.



FringeTERN – A FringeNYC intern! We’ve had FringeTERNS since the early years of the festival (in addition to our wonderful volunteers) and we probably couldn’t do the festival without them. For our first twenty years, both FringeTERNS and volunteers have come in to help produce FringeNYC in August right as the workload skyrockets from April through September. The difference between a short-term volunteer and a FringeTERN is that the FringeTERN is provided an educational opportunity at FringeNYC. Neither an intern or a volunteer can do work that would otherwise be done by an employee (though at FringeNYC that isn’t difficult because we’ve always been run almost entirely by volunteers). This often means that each FringeTERN is brought on board to intern in a specific area so that over their time at FringeNYC their experience is concentrated in marketing, tech theatre, or producing / arts administration training.



Recently, in part because of these Hollywood lawsuits, the entire practice of unpaid internships has come under fire.

At FringeNYC, we feel as though interning for a large festival over the summer is not only very practical real-world experience, it also introduces our interns to many of the local and national companies and artists with whom they may work in the future. In some ways, interning at the festival serves the same purpose for our interns as does participating in the festival for our emerging artists. We also believe our internship program is in compliance with the federal laws.

But given the abuse some interns have suffered at other organizations, New York is one of the states that has put stringent internship laws into place to make sure someone who should be compensated under the minimum wage laws receives their due. These New York State internship laws for Non Profit organizations limit internships to during or between enrolled semesters (i.e. the summer) for undergraduates. For graduates, the internship cannot last longer than ten weeks (and that is only true at a bona fide training program that includes formal instruction).

We certainly don’t want to take advantage of anyone. After all, we created FringeNYC in part because we felt so many indie theatre artists were being taken advantage of with venue rental schemes, pay-for-review scenarios and other “training” opportunities happening in the mid-nineties in our community. On the other hand, we’ve had part-time employees request time off from work at FringeNYC in order to serve as an unpaid production assistant on a Broadway show (a for profit organization with a much larger budget).

CHALLENGE: Some major universities REQUIRE an internship that is longer than three months (and/or more hours than we can provide) in order for the student to receive school credit. This means these students necessarily must intern in a state other than New York and we’re missing out on some great folks. Additionally, the majority of these students are theatre majors – and they’d love to be in New York for the summer!

CHALLENGE: We have young people who have graduated already who’d like to do an internship with us as they launch their professional careers. But they also need to (of course) maintain a paid job (or two) in order to afford to live within commutable distance of NYC. This means that their time with us is limited to one or two days per week, so that they can maintain paid work. The challenge is that we aren’t able to offer recent graduates the continuity of tasks that would serve as a real world experience for them, or provide the networking and training that are so vital if they are only with us ten days in ten weeks.

So what do you think? Are theatre organizations taking advantage of young artists and administrators if we offer unpaid internships? Did you do an unpaid internship when you were starting out? What resources can FringeNYC identify that would allow us to offer paid internships? We need to come to a resolution about this as a part of our Blank Canvas Project so we build the FringeNYC of the future. We welcome comments below!