FEB 2009

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.