The second session of the self-directed breakouts that I attended was nominated by Megan at the Hollywood Fringe Festival and was focused on education and outreach at fringe festivals. I was interested in this session as Cincinnati only very recently launched educational programs for both youth and artists and I wanted to hear from other festivals on how they have incorporated these ideas.
Educational components to festivals seem to both incorporate education for students and for the festival participants. The word outreach similarly applies to both outreach to local youth, audiences, and artists across the globe in a myriad of ways. These words mean different things to different people. Another use of the outreach is the accreditation process that many festivals provide that invites other producers or directors to attend to scout for talent.
I got to talk at length about our FringeNext and FringeDevelopment components of our festival. There really hadn't been a chance yet at the sessions to even mention that these components exist at our festival, so it was nice to do so at this session. You already know about what we do right? I also got to hear about some of the other group's components and some are quite innovative and interesting!
Hollywood Fringe Festival had some special programming of family friendly Fringe shows during the day and they were able to bus schools in to see the shows. The productions and artists donated their time for the program. Hollywood also hosts the Town Hall events I mentioned before where they create an opportunity for the community and artists to attend events focused on different subjects.
The Orlando International Fringe Festival has an entire area and performances dedicated to kids called the Kids Fringe. The promote it as it's own mini-festival, mostly set outdoors with lots of outdoor booths, games, activities, food, etc. as well as performances. In one day of the program, they had 4,000 kids go through the grounds and in total had 17,051 throughout. Wowsers!
The Bharat Rang Mahotsav (International Theatre Festival of India) has several initiatives focused on education and families. First, they invite teachers to the festival to see the work that is being created. I thought this was a great idea, especially for FringeNext. Let's invite teachers to see the FringeNext performances, let them see what is possible!
In addition to that, they have a special program just for families. Children are invited to apply to this program. They receive about 600 applications each year just for this. Then 10-15 children are accepted for four different performances and they get to create something together. Somehow families were involved as well, but I didn't really hear how they were included.
Lastly, a side note idea came out of something that the Orlando International Fringe Festival does (I already told them I am stealing the idea). They have a private group on Facebook that is just for their artists. Each year, the participating artists are added to the group and it becomes a place where they can network with each other, past artists can answer questions for incoming artists, and more. I think it's brilliant and could be a really neat thing for Cincinnati's artist network.
Artists? What do you think?