First Orlando, now New Orleans

Mark Baratelli,
June 15, 2009

Everyone and their mother from this year's Orlando Fringe is applying to the New Orleans Fringe Festival. I spoke with someone today who mentioned it in passing and I threw my hands up and said "That's it. I'm writing a post about this."

Why are so many Fringe artists from Orlando suddenly, in 2009, so gung-ho about picking up and shipping off to Fringe Festivals in other cities? This seems so out of the blue and random.

One person I spoke to said the reason they think is that there is no large upfront cost to participate in the New Orleans Fringe, unlike at Orlando Fringe. For those who are required to pay a venue fee at Orlando Fringe, the cost at a minimum is around $500 and up. For the New Orleans Fringe, you pay a $25 application fee and then they take a percentage of your ticket sales.

When I did Orlando Fringe in 2006, NO ONE was taking their Fringe show outside of Orlando. Now it seems like that is changing with the New Orleans Fringe. We also have a few shows in New York City festivals this summer.

To this I say, "Thank God!"

I hope this is the beginning of a new trend: try it in Orlando, ship it out to the US.

If the reason more Orlando Fringe shows don't take flight from the nest is cost, then we need to do something about that. How about Orlando Fringe forgo color program printing for black and white and pass the savings onto a scholarship fund for shows that were born in Orlando but have potential as a touring show? Maybe can put on its own scholarship fund as well. Maybe local venues can donate space and tech time to shows that want to tour? If money is truly the issue, I think the creative community can find a way around it.

What I personally dislike is all this creativity that comes out of the woodwork in Orlando for 2 weeks, then goes back into hiding until the next year. People pack up their sets, their casts and throw the whole show onto moth balls and all we are left with is a few theaters with a few seasons of shows and a bunch of creative folks planning their next Fringe show in hiding.

I hope all the groups in Orlando who want to get into the New Orleans Fringe actually get in. Only 20 shows get accepted by the selection panel. The rest have to deal with a "lotto" system to see if their name gets picked not on merit, but by chance.

I hope the shows in the three New York City festivals (FringeNYC, New York Music Theatre Festival, CringeFest) this summer do well and find legs afterward.

Orlando artists need to know there is real financial gain and opportunity in performing at other festivals and in creating your own pieces of art. And we as a community need to come up with ways to foster those ideas and make them more realistic.