Patrons at next year’s Minnesota Fringe Festival will see some changes. Changes organizers hopes will streamline the process of seeing shows and allow Fringers to be more adventurous in their choices.
Starting in 2016, instead of buying individual tickets for each show, you will buy a single day pass that allows you access to any show scheduled.
“If you already have a day pass, there will just be a single line to get into the theater. If you’ve purchased a reservation in advance you’ll get in first, and then everyone else will follow close behind. Reservations secure you a place at the festival, but not a specific seat. We’ll be staying general admission,” says Minnesota Fringe Festival executive director Jeff D. Larson.
Larson says Minnesota is the first Fringe to use this ticketing model, but it is one that is often employed at music festivals and other large events. “Fringe festivals have always been ticketed very much like conventional theater, but we think the music festival model is a better fit for what we do,” Larson says.
Streamlining entry times wasn’t the main goal, “but that’s going to be a great side effect," he says. "We kept coming back to our own experiences going to other Fringe festivals where, and even as professional fringe-goers, we found that paying a la carte discouraged us from taking chances on shows we weren’t already familiar with. That made it clear to us that there was a structural problem getting in the way of our mission.”
Artist payouts will also be streamlined. The total number of day passes sold over the Fringe will be divided by total attendance, which will create a cash value for each ticket. That total will be multiplied by the number of people who attend each production. The individual producers will receive 70 percent of that total.
“It’s basically the same system we’ve been using to determine the artist payout on multi-show passes in the past,” he adds. Last year, more than $285,000 was paid to artists.
Applications for the 2016 Fringe are now open. Last year, there were 477 applications for the 170 or so available spaces in the festival. Larson and the Fringe crew hope to beat that number.
Along with the general applications, producers can submit proposals for site-specific shows. The Fringe holds five spaces for performances in non-traditional venues, such as in a downtown office or on a bus tour. Folks can apply up until 5 p.m. February 19.
Despite these chances, the Minnesota Fringe Festival remains fiercely dedicated to an un-curated festival.
“After 22 years of growth and adventure and discovery of some amazingly talented artists who wouldn’t have gotten onstage otherwise, there’s no way we’d ever change to a juried format." says Larson. "The curated arts world is struggling, while un-curated arenas like Fringe festivals and YouTube and podcasting where anyone can participate are exploding in popularity and are full of incredibly interesting work. The real question is, why is everyone else still curating?”
For more information about the ticketing changes and applications, visit online. The Fringe will host an informational meeting about the changes at 7 p.m. November 23 at their offices at 79 13th Ave. NE, Suite 112, Minneapolis.