On the last day of the conference, the group gathered and got to decide what the subjects of the sessions we attended were. Interested parties stood and nominated subjects for break-out discussion groups in various sections of the room.
Our giant board of self-selected sessions:
The first break-out group I met with were folks from all of the other US Fringe Festivals. In attendance were Orlando, Rochester, Nashville, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Ashville, and Hollywood. the purpose was to have a mini-United States Association of Fringe Festivals (of which we are a member) meeting.
The first major topic of discussion became a point of interest for me, international VISA's for artists. Cincinnati Fringe has only had a few international (other than Canada) artists come through in it's history. Compared to other countries, it is very difficult and very expensive for international artists to attend US Fringe Festivals and often are just plain denied entry into the US with the performers VISA. We talked about a lot of ideas around this issue, loopholes (hehe), organizing a lobbyist, and creating a case for the sector. Fringe Festivals are HUGE economic drivers in every community where they exist. Why can't it be a sector that has a dollar amount impact nationwide? What will convince our government that it is important for artists across the world to come and perform at our Fringe Festivals? And heck, even major arts institutions sometimes have a hard time with international artists? Is this a result of our government not recognizing art as something neccessary?
I think and hope that a great deal of conversation will come out of this initial meeting. I'll admit I don't know a whole lot about the VISA regulations for artists. Especially with how many artists I've recruited to apply during my trip. We need to be prepared for these questions in the coming year. I have a feeling that we'll be making some new friends. Next task: research.
Cincinnati Fringe is hosting the USAFF meeting in 2013.