The 2013 22nd Orlando International Fringe Festival is in full swing, kicking off its biggest, longest running showcase yet. This 14-day festival runs from May 15th-28th and features actors, comics and musicians from around the country in over 100 productions and occurs in 11 venues within and around the city of Loch Haven, Florida.
The festival, which started in Orlando in 1992, “is founded on the concept of offering 100% unjuried, 100% uncensored, 100% accessible theatre, music, dance, and art to all types and ages where 100% of the box office ticket sales go directly back to the artists within The Fringe.” Festival General Manager, George Wallace, communicated by email saying, “Two things I feel Orlando Fringe brings to the city is the economic impact. We pay our artists 100% of box office receipts and last year paid out over a quarter of a million dollars. Our 2012 Economic Impact calculator showed that we generated 1.5 million dollars in revenue for Orange County alone. The other thing that we bring is a unique cultural experience—unlike anything else you can see in Orlando, Florida, or the entire southeast.”
Wallace started as a volunteer 11 years ago; became Volunteer Coordinator in 2008; was promoted in 2009 to Director of Operations; and transitioned in 2011 to General Manager, which Wallace explains “is equivalent to the Executive Director.” As for his favorite festival parts Wallace states it’s “the national and international acts and the fact that we allow people to see something that they cannot see anywhere else.”
When asked about any stress from putting on a detailed event, Wallace stated, “We are the oldest Fringe in the United States and I like to think of us as a ‘well oiled machine.’ So there are very few bumps in the road during the actual festival.” Wallace went on to say the “Logistics are the hardest part of the overall festival—scheduling over 800 performances throughout 12 locations is not an easy task. The most difficult part of my job throughout the year is fundraising and educating people that we are a 501C3 nonprofit. We rely heavily on grant support and general donations.”
Another area that is taken into consideration is the use of a rating system to let attendees knows what may be kid-friendly, for a general audience, or for a mature audience. An example of this would be Kids Fringe which is “a special part of the Orlando Fringe Festival just for kids and families and is free to all participants and runs 10-4 both weekends of the festival.” As for how you may choose to view certain shows otherwise, the ticketed venues are identified by color. Most areas are within a walking distance, however some are several blocks away. Following the color system an attendee can decide how best to reach their destination.
Moving forward, Wallace would enjoy seeing growth in audience development. “At the end of the day, I love writing those checks to the artists—that is why we are here. The more “butts in seats” we get, the more we can pay our artists!”
To learn more and get tickets for the festival please check here.