Fame And Fortune
How can we support our artists? Do we have a obligation to the artists after the festival?
The first breakout session I chose was focused on the artists and their experiences at festivals and what festivals can provide to enhance their experience. I was interested in this session as Cincinnati Fringe's main priority is the artist experience. Feedback from our artists has told is that we're doing well in this aspect through our FringeDevelopment programming, the Bar Series, and the structure of our festival.
Our guests for the panel were two repeat Edinburgh (and worldwide performers) Frisk & Mannish, who I am planning to see while I am here, and a producer who has brought shows to several festivals.
I spoke a bit about the programs that we offer as part of FringeDevelopment as well as a few bar series events that we try to get artists involved in. Many others also highlighted some of the things they did.
As I mentioned previously, many artists also offer Arts Industry accreditation allowing other industry members to attend to seek talent (just as I am doing here in Edinburgh).
It was generally agreed upon that providing activities for artists, specifically focused on education for the artists to grow and collaborate with others is now more important than ever. I couldn't agree more.
Some interesting ideas were brought up, but the one that resonated the most with me was an idea of a showcase stage. This is something I've wanted to do for a few years now. It would be great to have a set 'Fringe' stage somewhere in the city during the festival. Artists can sign up for slots to go and perform snippets or whatever they'd like to do!
Where in Cincinnati would you be interested in seeing something like this? Fountain Square? Near the Festival? Over-the-Rhine? Not downtown? How can we make this happen easily? The important part of this offering that others have done is to provide a mini-box office next to the showcase stage. Turn those onlookers into ticket buyers!
What doesn't work?
The last topic discussed focused a bit more on the structures of festivals and how that can affect artists. If a venue takes a majority of the ticket sales, books only big (non-fringy and internationally known) acts, and makes a ton of money off booze at their bar, is that really in the best interest of the artists? Welcome to Edinburgh. I'm not saying this Fringe is all that, but it's taken over a majority. There are certainly still many true 'fringy' shows and venues, but a lot of the life of the festival is controlled by the venues, and not the festival itself. When does it become a festival of venues? Many many artists come to Edinburgh and invest an insane amount of money into their trip, accommodations, venue arrangements, and hardly make anything off their show due to their arrangement with the venue.
We heard a few horror stories from the artists and the producer that really made me think about all of these issues. It also made me think about how strongly I feel that Cincinnati Fringe is truly thinking about the artists.
All Fringes are fantastic in their own ways, but we've really got something special in Cincinnati.
I guess now I should show you the gigantic upside down purple cow. Enjoy.