Hi y’all, Fringe Programs Director Ellen here.
I would like to take a moment of your time to talk to you about our community, something that has been extremely important to me over the last 5 years.
I’ve been pondering the words “Why Fringe?” since we began the journey into the unknown of online theatre last March.
And the truth is I was wondering: where was Fringe’s place in it? Where does “office hours” or “community building” fit in an online space? Considering the burnout we were all (and still are) experiencing, how could we rely on each other in the same ways?
And why was it so important for us at FRINGE to figure it out?
I know our staff and board members were puzzled when figuring out next steps for 2021, and honestly so was I. How would we ask our community to come back for something that was so unpredictable?
In preparation for this year’s Fringe, I really wanted to figure out how we could support artists. How could we ensure their financial ability to participate when we were barely scraping by to add back staff members ourselves?
And while I was considering this, I just kept asking the question “why fringe?”
And then it came to me.
Because Fringe is a space unlike any other. Even though I’ve consistently held a full-time workload outside of the organization since I started in 2016, Fringe is the first place I mention when people ask what I do for work. It’s the first thing I talk about when people ask what I’m passionate about.
I’m passionate about our community, because it’s unlike any other. Fringe is special because it’s built by people, for people.
It’s built by artists and venue owners, theatre patrons and arts supporters, coffee shop owners and restaurateurs. It’s all of these components to the whole that make this the most incredible community— and create a world that I want to live in. For one month every summer, life feels like pure joy. It feels like the world is going to be okay, because artists will make it so!
The members of this community support each other in a way I’ve never seen before. I’ve seen someone literally cast a friend at Fringe Central an hour before their preview show due to a family emergency. I’ve seen countless people volunteer for each other’s shows, and give freely of their time and money and energy.
Even in an online space, I knew these feelings wouldn’t go away. And they didn’t, because I was hanging out with my friends.
Friends, colleagues, mentors, artists… family. These are the words I use to describe you, my friends at the Hollywood Fringe. I call you my family.
And when your family is hurting, you step up.
And I’m asking you to give. Just like you do during Fringe.
Not a lot. Just a little. So that our artists can continue in 2021 with the financial security of an artist stipend.
If each person reading this newsletter gave just $5, the Fringe could give out over 200 stipends to artists. The cost of a latte can help the return to our theatres go smoothly, and with minimal financial risk for our artists.
So I’m asking you to become a part of the power of Fringe— the power of community.
Ellen Boudreau Den Herder
Hollywood Fringe Programs Director