New Orleans Fringe Inc. will be holding its first annual Fringe Festival on November 13-16, 2008 in the St. Claude business district in the Marigny and Bywater neighborhoods of New Orleans. Fringe Festival is a multi-day multi-venue theater event that promotes new and emerging theater and makes it affordable to the community.
The Festival provides the venues, technical assistance, promotion, volunteers and the audience; the performers do the rest. Almost anything can be performed: cabaret, comedy, dance, drama, improvisational, magic, multimedia, musical theater, performance art, puppetry, storytelling, variety, burlesque, sideshow, spoken word, street theater, and other creative projects.
Over 20 theater groups from around the country will be presenting over 100 shows at five local venues, including the Marigny Theatre, the Sidearm Gallery, Backyard Ballroom, L’Art Noir and Nola Candle Factory and a free outdoor venue on the St. Roch neutral ground. Estimated attendance is over 2500 and is expected to draw from throughout the Southeast. Tickets are inexpensive ($7) and sales are split with performers. Immediate economic benefits to local businesses come from venue fees and increased revenue for local restaurants, bars, bed and breakfasts, hotels and merchants from visiting participants and audiences.
New Orleans has always been a city that embraces artists, where creativity has flourished and the avant-garde has gravitated. These are the roots of the New Orleans Fringe Festival – the theater festival of the wild, weird, fresh, and original. The first Fringe Festival started in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1947 when eight performing groups were excluded from the mainstream annual arts festival. They decided to perform anyway, finding inexpensive or free venues on the fringes of the city. The Edinburgh Fringe Festival has since grown into one of the largest arts festivals in the world, eclipsing the original festival that was too afraid for fringe. Great ideas spread. Fringe Festivals have been launched in cities throughout the US, the most well-known being the festivals in Minneapolis and New York. The Fringe concept is a proven cultural economic development model.