DEC 2007

Fringe Update: What are we doing now?

With an event and a vision this massive, there is only one way to produce it: One little step at a time.

To make a project like this workable, we have divided it into phases. These phases define what we should be doing, who we should be talking to, and what goals we should achieve. The big picture becomes clearer and tasks more manageable when you think of the project in these terms.

This is phase one: Preliminary Planning.

During this phase we are working with definition, research, and basic framework (organizational, technical, and strategic).

Who are we and what are we trying to achieve? We have been slowly defining our mission and our principles as a group to answer these questions. The mission more or less defined itself – we are here for the city, the community, and the artists. The principles have become more and more clear over time – what is it we value? What is our “constitution”, our core laws? Obviously these are important decisions as their implications stretch (hopefully) many years into the future.

In case you didn’t notice from my last post, this is indeed a focus right now. We begin with the logo, which will help us define identity, shapes, colors, fonts, etc. This immediately informs our business cards and letterhead which will be the next tasks. By February, we hope to launch an official “branded” website that will provide more information on our plans (don’t worry, the blog will still exist, too). As we start to prepare information packets for the press, artists, producers, industry, and the venues, the brand will inform them all visually. We have already discovered some alternative approaches to marketing we can use thanks to some smart thinking from our production team.

We have recruited just under ten core production team members to manage such tasks as marketing, design, venues, technology, development, and research. I will be introducing them in later posts. We use a product called Basecamp to serve our internal project management needs. Basecamp gives us an online home for our project. Rather than emails, we normally communicate via posts and comments. All of our electronic communication is centralized in one place. It also allows us to track task lists, collaborative documents, files, and milestones. Members of the project receive email updates as relevant information is posted in basecamp. Project management is 95% communication, and we find Basecamp is a perfect fit for this end.

We have already made the decision that this will be a technology-heavy event. Our goal is to provide the most advanced web presence to our staffers, volunteers, audience, community, and associated artists. For example, we are building a world-class web-based submissions system whereby community members can vote on their favorite projects – “winners” will be invited to participate in official Fringe venues come Summer 2010. We are also developing online services for the audience (where to eat, what to see, where to stay) and artists (boarding, online workshops, collaborating). We have made a lot of progress already – we hope to launch a beta version of our submissions service before the Summer begins – and are on track to do so!

We obviously need money to accomplish our plans and one of the big research projects right now is learning where to find it. We are searching through all the typical avenues: Grants, individual fund raising, fund raising events, sponsors. We are also investigating alternative options such as Internet micro-donations, contextual and relevant online advertising, and more. We have the time to do this right, so research is of the highest importance right now.

That’s a rough description of what’s on our plate right now. As things progress and we move on to new tasks and goals, we will certainly keep our community informed.