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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 4, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 36
Seattle Fringe Festival announces a return to Spring programming
New structure and local focus will better serve Seattle's self-producing artists
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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Seattle Fringe Festival announces a return to Spring programming
New structure and local focus will better serve Seattle's self-producing artists

Responding to feedback from audiences and artists, Seattle Fringe Festival (SFF) will postpone production in Fall 2015 and return in Spring of 2016 with a restructured, locally-focused Festival.

Thanks to support from broad and varied sources, each of the prior three Festivals has paid all artists on time and ended the season in the black. However, the SFF steering committee (Meaghan Darling, Pamala Mijatov, Beth Raas-Bergquist) is committed to creating the ideal platform for Seattle's artists, and is making proactive changes to the producing model to aid in building audiences and expanding the Festival's reach.

Instead of a densely-packed, 5-day event beginning on a Wednesday evening (structured to make most efficient use of time for touring artists), the 2016 SFF will produce over two weekends to maximize the more-accessible evening and weekend performance slots. SFF is exploring expanding geographically to include venues in other neighborhoods, making SFF accessible to broader audiences and circumventing some of the transit difficulties of the crowded and saturated Capitol Hill. SFF will also focus on broadening 'satellite' programming, with connections to other local companies and businesses.

The original SFF premiered in 1991 and produced in March for 10 years. In 2002, the Festival moved to September in an effort to align with the Canadian Fringe touring circuit; this change was widely (although not entirely accurately) viewed as a cause of the first Festival's downfall. The revived Festival continued fall programming to maximize opportunities for traveling performers, but has since found that local artists are currently the biggest draw for Seattle's Festival. Additionally, September has proven to be an increasingly saturated market for alternative and independent performance festivals, with competition from both the Victoria and Vancouver, BC Fringe Festivals, as well as SketchFest, Bumbershoot, Seattle Seahawks fever, and even the weather.

Steering Committee member Beth Raas-Bergquist says, 'I moved to Seattle in 2000 because I knew I could learn how to produce without heavy financial risk, and there was a supportive community for a young artist to create new work. It's important to continue this legacy through the Fringe Festival by giving a new generation of artists the opportunity to produce with a low-risk, high-exposure, hands-on experience. There are very few university programs where you can learn how to self-produce. With SFF, we are working to create a new model for making theatre and performance that's outside of the professional arts infrastructure.'

Steering Committee member Pamala Mijatov says, 'The producing landscape has changed significantly in the past decade. We started with established expectations about the ideal festival structure, but found it is no longer the best approach for our current community. SFF is committed to changing its model to fit the needs of Seattle's independent producing artists.'

The Seattle Fringe Festival is a volunteer-run community performance festival. The SFF Steering Committee is Meaghan Darling, Pamala Mijatov, and Beth Raas-Bergquist.

Courtesy of Seattle Fringe Festival

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