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Fringe Festival cancels 2020 event, needs funds to survive

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Well, shit. Another day in lockdown, another cancellation. This time it’s the Fringe Festival, a multi-week event where artists and production companies from around the country (and Minnesota) come to town to present a mind-boggling number of shows.

“The health and safety of our artists, staff, volunteers, and patrons is our top priority. And for that reason, we cannot confidently move forward with the 2020 Minnesota Fringe Festival,” says executive director Dawn Bentley. 

This news puts the nonprofit Fringe Fest into survival mode, as they must refund more than $40,000 in deposits for the groups and people planning to present at the event. In total, the organization estimates that it will be losing $160,000—which is what the Fringe expected to make this year after paying staff, venues, and artists. Staff at the Fringe have been either furloughed or laid off as a cost-saving measure. 

This is a big loss to the city of Minneapolis as well. The event, which has been going strong for 27 years, attracts 40,000 attendees and over 1,000 artists. These crowds bring in money for theater venues, hotels, restaurants, and bars. In February, Minnesota Citizens for the Arts released a study estimating the annual economic impact of Minnesota Fringe to be over $1.9 million.

“Fringe, its artists, and the festival patrons are important to the economics and cultural competitiveness of the State of Minnesota,” says Bentley. “We contribute to the good of our community. We need community support now so we can keep doing good work—providing a welcoming place for artists and audiences to share unforgettable experiences.” 

As for the future of the Fringe, like many organizations right now, it will be going into fundraising mode. In order to ensure survival, they need to raise $100,000. If they make it out the other end of this thing, artists who were selected for the 2020 Fringe Festival will be invited to participate in the 2021 event.

You can donate to the cause at minnesotafringe.org.