LaTheatreReview.com on the Hollywood Fringe

If you haven’t seen it yet, check out our review on the fantastic (and newly designed) website latheatrereview.com

Lots of information on our model and ideas is posted there for your enjoyment.

Ben


Fringe as Economic Stimulus

There is much talk in the news about stimulating the economy through federal funding. To most economic observers, this is a wise move on the part of the government – greasing the skids for communities and businesses to invest in local development.

This can’t be the end of the recovery story, though. As citizens, it’s our responsibility to act on a local basis and make the occasional spending and giving decisions which best enrich our community.

We have structured the Fringe in Los Angeles to provide an injection of enthusiasm, patronage, and funding to the arts in Los Angeles and the communities that support them. With arts on the rise, our city becomes a more attractive destination for cultural tourism. As a community’s culture prosper, more people seek to live in and visit that community. This clustering of development around culturally-rich neighborhoods increases the bankrolls of local businesses, contractors, and governments. More money is reinvested in infrastructure and beautification further increasing the desirability of the community…a healthy and thriving arts scene is key to this formula.

How does the structure of our festival encourage this stimulus effect?

First in our minds is attracting massive artistic participation. We accomplish this through low application and production fees and our policy of “come one, come all”. As described multiple times on this website, the Fringe is “unjuried” – there is no central organization calling the shots on which artists are allowed to participate. Find a venue? You have a show. The word “Fringe” itself attracts artists around the world with its reputation for vitalizing artistic community and careers for the past 6 decades.

Second comes the task of bringing audience to enjoy these Fringe shows. Besides the obvious tasks ahead of us (read: making parking easy and convenient), we wield the ultimate tool for attracting mass attendance: Low Ticket Prices, Lots of Selection. For art lovers, this will be a “kid-in-a-candy-store” environment. Traditionally, a big chunk of fringe-goers are not regulars to the performing arts – though this changes once they attend a Fringe. Many local Fringe artistic companies note a spike in their attendance post-Fringe – patrons who never thought to catch an exciting new play over that Jim Carey film at the cineplex suddenly roll by the theatre box office.

Next comes the huge benefit to local businesses that participate in Fringe-happenings. Edinburgh Fringe Festival (the original Fringe) famously pumps over $100 million dollars into its local economy. Artists from out-of-town need places to eat and stay – visiting patrons need meals and shopping between Fringe shows. Sponsors of Fringes find their name printed on periodicals handed to thousands and thousands of patrons not to mention the associated media coverage. Increased cultural tourism leads to community beautification which leads to even more tourism. Businesses prosper as the Fringe grows.

Looking to Summer 2010 – we all hope media talk of “recovery” replaces the glum stories on “recession” and “stimulus”. Even in the best of economies, we at the Fringe will always be in the stimulus business.


Fringe Artistry by Gavin Worth



“Self Portrait” by Gavin Worth

I’ve received a lot of questions about the source of our graphic design imagery – particularly, the name of the artist who created our mascots the fringe freaks.

The answer is Gavin Worth, our resident graphic magician. You may have seen some of his work gracing the walls of December’s ARTBASH.

Interesting story about the Freaks. About a year and a half ago, we were playing around with different brand aesthetics for the Hollywood Fringe. (read more) We had an idea of what we wanted: Something in the form of street-based graffiti art with a Hollywood-edge. You can actually check out our flickr gallery to see some ideas we were exploring at the time.

In a random moment of inspiration, Gavin produced this image . Funny how many great things begin as a disparaging joke about someone’s mother (for the record, Ken’s mom is a beautiful and intelligent woman and not at all freak-like).

Something about those freaky little figures clicked…so we ran with it. As a potential brochure design, Gavin put together this image – a chalk drawing on a sidewalk near his house. We’ve since featured the freaks on our business cards, website, and post cards.

We are currently in the process of creating life-sized freak costumes (lots of chicken wire, paper mache, paint, and spandex). You just may see them wondering the streets of Hollywood in the very near future.

Check out more of Gavin’s work at www.GavinWorth.com.


A Fringe Model

One of the most challenging tasks facing new fringe festivals is determining how the festival’s participants are selected.

In the spirit of the original Fringe, most Fringe Festivals opt for an “open” or “unjuried” approach to artist selection. This method excludes the central Fringe organization from picking which applicants are accepted.

Some Fringes opt for a “lottery” system: Participants are chosen at random from an annual pool of applicants. Others operate on a “first-come, first-served” basis: When all festival venues are taken, applicants find their own venue. Still others – Edinburgh most notably – take a very hands-off approach to the whole thing: If you can find a venue, you are in the festival.

We adopted a hybrid of the many techniques employed worldwide and added a few of our own innovations.

THE APPLICATION PROCESS

This Summer, applications will open for the 2010 Hollywood Fringe Festival.

Applicants will:

  • Create a fringe website account with details on themselves and (if applicable) their organization
  • Pay a (very small) application fee to create a publicly-viewable project on the fringe website.
  • Add videos, text, tags, images and more to articulate the vision of the project
  • Solicit community support for the project – this will help it’s visibility
  • Engage with venues to find a home for the project
  • Continue to use the fringe site to promote the show and sell tickets

We will post a list of “secured venues” that have signed-up to participate in the festival. These theatres, clubs, and galleries select artistic projects from the pool of applicants on the website – some venues might specialize in a certain genre of programming such as comedy or new plays.

For those performers not chosen by a secured venue – no problem. You just need to find your own venue (we will help).

Our goal is to lower the bar for artists seeking a space to present their work. We hope this will lead to a vast, deep, and rich experience for our participants and our audience.

Fringe Festival should represent a snapshot of emerging art – the model we are developing is built to support that.


Defining "Fringe Festival"

What makes a festival a “fringe” festival?

To-date, our collective (not always perfect) wisdom defines a “Fringe Festival” as a massive, unjuried, multi-disciplinary arts festival featuring local, national, and international talent.

The Hollywood Fringe Festival has no central selection committee (“jury”), promotes and supports touring and out-of-town artists, and is designed to be very multi-disciplinary in scope: music, dance, theatre, circus, performance art, comedy, variety/burlesque, visual art, (potentially) film, and street performance.

The Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals (CAFF) created guidelines for fringe eligibility in Canada and trademarked the words “Fringe” and “Fringe Festival”. To mount any Canadian festival with “fringe” in its name, you must first become a member. All member fringes are obliged to operate their festivals in compliance with the CAFF mandate and guiding principles.

American fringes are more liberal with the definition. The American equivalent to the CAFF – the US Association of Fringe Festivals (USAFF) states:

There are no rules or regulations for how the individual festivals operate. The festivals’ content, finances and structure vary from city to city. Generally, however, all the festivals are committed to an open forum of expression that minimizes the financial risks for both artists and audiences. Fringes strive to keep application fees and ticket prices low so that more people can participate in our festivals.

Much like defining “art”, strictly defining “fringe” crushes its spirit and intent. Fringes vary by the content and character of their host city – as they should.


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Advertising with the Hollywood Fringe Festival is an excellent way to promote your project, organization, brand, or cause. Buy an advertisement now on our website or printed guide.Advertising with the Hollywood Fringe Festival is an excellent way to promote your project, organization, brand, or cause. Buy an advertisement now on our website or printed guide.