24 Months|105 Weeks|17250 Hours is a blog by Julianne Brienza, CEO/Founder of Capital Fringe based in Washington, DC. Posting running through August 2020 will explore the varied aspects of defining the organizational evolution and structure of a annual Fringe festival to a year round organization through photos and narrative.    

Toughening Part 1

Toughening Part 1

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It’s out--the Project Manager RFP! It was released on 9-21. The writing of this document was a true test.

I had a board member send me an example of one during the Festival. It was for a school and the issuer was not the owner of the building the proposed renovation would occur, so I was not exactly comparing apples to apples. I didn’t have time to really do the research to create my own draft over the summer.

In my first draft I took the language as far as I could. I don’t know enough about construction or industry standards to really gauge what was missing. I sent it over to Nick from Stoiber & Associates. Nick is one of the architects on our project. He added in much more detail under the scope of services. Gerry, Fringe’s Board Chair, then did a big edit. Really the whole board--each member--offered useful non-nitpicky edits and feedback. The best was in an email from Gerry. He wrote, “Hi. I am excited by the RFP as it really says to me here we go!” Reading that sentence really gave me the confidence I needed at this juncture. I thought, yeah, we are ready!

Beginning the hiring process for the Project Manager triggers many other steps for Phase 2. Like, the Project Manager will need a contract. With the building acquisition, we had, what I like to call, the best lawyer in DC. He’s actually on the “Top 100 List of Best Lawyers” every year--so he really is the best. Also, he is cool. He is a bee keeper, rides his bike everywhere no matter the weather, has been to Montana, speaks like a human and not a lawyer.

He is also connected to our Vice-Chair, Kingdon. So, I was unsure if I could cold contact him regarding serving as our legal representation. Luckily, Kingdon messed up his schedule one day last month and ended up hanging out at our space for an hour or so. He said it was okay for me to cold contact him. I did and Michael Goodwin, aka the best lawyer in DC replied, within an hour saying he was happy to help. This adds great strength to our project. Next up: negotiating the Project Manager’s contract.

 2018 Fringe Festival New Play Team: Lee Cromwell, Festival Producer; Me; Josie Felt, Stage Manager; Jason Aufdem-Brinke, Lighting Designer; Amy McDonald, Costume Designer and Gordon Nimmo-Smith, Sound Designer.

2018 Fringe Festival New Play Team: Lee Cromwell, Festival Producer; Me; Josie Felt, Stage Manager; Jason Aufdem-Brinke, Lighting Designer; Amy McDonald, Costume Designer and Gordon Nimmo-Smith, Sound Designer.

As Lee, who serves in the role of Festival Producer at Fringe, was working on the three plays commissioned for the 2018 Fringe Festival, outlining the way from the initial production meeting to the first read questions began to be unearthed about process, communication and roles. It is a comfortable choice to just replicate what is done in a more traditional theatre. We never quite have all the amenities of a more traditional theatre or if we do they are arranged in a different manner. Fringe’s approach is never to replicate tradition but use tradition to inform how to approach the work and process. Through both of these meetings the ground we were all starting from was not quite stable. Design team and directors were not empowered with the parameters we were all working under. Each play’s process, pacing of development was not in synch. As the producers, we were left with much to follow up on thus setting some of the plays back in their development thus affecting their execution.

We are now settling on the process for commissioning plays for 2019 Fringe Festival. A first step is to hold a dinner for the design team in mid-October to ensure their involvement starts from selecting the plays through load in and techs. We are trying to work collectively from the start. Yes, there will be directors for each, but we are aiming to set up the environment starting with script selection that everyone’s perspective is in synch and holds weight during the whole process.

Last year, we commissioned new adaptions of classical texts excluding the following historical periods: Elizabethan, Spanish golden age, French baroque, Restoration, neo-classical, 19th, 20th, 21st century theatre. This year, I gave Lee the base question to ponder “on the planet right now what is considered universal”. Lee bought back forgiveness, trust and time. We are now going back and forth researching various teachings, structure and language on these concepts. The RFP gets released in mid-October.

 Doors and tents. What is our future? Will doors and tents as pivotal?

Doors and tents. What is our future? Will doors and tents as pivotal?

The move out of our former space Fort Fringe--while at first seeming huge and overwhelming—became more manageable because we were moving from one venue to another. We all worked to set up a logical step-by-step process to sorting and packing. Most of mid-September to early October has been spent walking room by room making notes and leaving post-it notes and various colored tape on things. By mid to late October the task of tossing, selling, donating and storing will become more of a daily focus and task. Many items like doors, keg fridge, bar to the pink marble from the back bar at the Fort will be worked back into the building once the renovation/addition is complete.

Lee has been working on our inventory document since closing the Festival. We always update our inventory doc post Festival with new equipment and the old equipment we have tossed. His initial work, is indicating we need three or four storage pods for Festival equipment. We already have two out in what I call Pod Land. We still have to determine, if we need one more or two. The additional pods are primarily for our bar equipment. Fingers crossed we actually find a venue for a bar for the 2019 Festival.

If you are someone who likes to organize things, we are in need of volunteers help in this process. A few folks, have already reached out and I very grateful for their engagement. Chances are you will walk out of the building with something and if you do more than two hours you’ll get tickets to the 2019 Festival. Email me and let me know if you are down! The time frame when we would need help is late-October to mid-December.

 Strategic Plan all day meeting back in Febuary 2018. Full board, Strategic Planning consultants and some staff. Looking back at this photo in my memory this seems like at least two years ago vs. seven months ago.

Strategic Plan all day meeting back in Febuary 2018. Full board, Strategic Planning consultants and some staff. Looking back at this photo in my memory this seems like at least two years ago vs. seven months ago.

Our Strategic Plan has five phases. Phase 1: Organizational Assessment, Phase 2: Plan for the Plan and Phase 3: Identification of Strategic Goals and Objectives have all been completed within 2018. In working with the planning committee on Phase 3 as we presented the goals and objectives at our September full board meeting, it has become very apparent that in order to tackle Phase 4: Action Plan to implement the Strategic Plan, we needed help.

In the setting up the timeline for deliverables for the planning process with our consultant. this Phase was left open to who was directly leading the process. Our goals and objectives under Facilities and Finances are large and have layered complexities of which some can be known during the drafting of the Action Plan and some cannot. After all, we are doing a major construction process. The committee and I are not positioned to pen an action plan tied to unknown details. We can just assume that we simply add in benchmarks, ie. when info is known we do X, but in detailing these steps on my own everything gets a bit vague at a certain point. Which means it will be hard to manage the plan collectively.

We have a meeting slated on October 16th, our consultant and her team will come to Fringe and meet in person with the committee to help us work out the proper approach on the writing and pacing- particularly the goals under Facilities and Finances. I hope this meeting allows us to all move forward with a clear understanding of the process ahead and will enables us to approve a solid plan at our Annual Meeting on 12.10. I am struggling a bit with not just powering through the work. However, I am keeping firm that if I were to do this, it would be a failure of the plan. The plans overarching goal and the reason I sought out to even enter into doing a Strategic Plan, is to lift the organization out of the Founder stage.

You can read our first Strategic Plan 2013 – 2015 and the review of the completed plan in 2016.


Sequencing

Sequencing

It is what it is: the cycle

It is what it is: the cycle