Venues, Venues, Venues. Space, Space, Space.
As we inch closer to the end of the fiscal year, we are attempting to finalize venues for the annual Fringe Festival in July. This has never been easy. I remember a friend commenting to me several years ago that he did not know why I was working so hard or was stressed about doing the annual budget. He simply asked: “why don’t you just increase line items by 10% here and there?” HA! If only!
As of today, we have approximately seven of the venues confirmed for next year’s festival. That’s okay. It is really looking like we will not have the others confirmed prior to approving the budget in December. While this is not the end of the world, we need to acquire another stage - not a small church community room, but an actual performance space with a stage.
The Atlas Preforming Arts Center was a good venue for the Fringe Festival as it contained three venues where we could put small, medium and large shows. Actually, one of the primary reasons Fringe bought 1358 Florida Ave NE was its proximity to the Atlas. When we purchased the building, we had dreams of being a part of an artist district, building a camaraderie with the neighborhood community and producing an awesome Fringe Festival from H Street to Florida Ave to Capitol Hill. We would have only needed to acquire five to seven venues--a lot easier and sustainable over time than finding 11 to 15. Unfortunately, things have not worked like we planned and we decided to take the Festival to the SW. We are always up for a quick change and expanding our footprint and partners.
SW DC is very community minded when it comes to working with the Fringe Festival program. Arena has become a valuable venue partner. They are a major regional theatre and have their own goals for their space in July. They are not a performing arts space with the mission to provide community space. We are hoping to add one more venue at Arena, but it all depends on their summer schedule. If we are able to get an additional stage at Arena, then we will be well on our way to providing the Fringe Festival artists with the venues they request.
While things are like someone just threw the 1000-piece puzzle that we were 30 or so pieces away from completing in the air, I know things will ultimately work out. Opportunities are always right around the corner, just not lining up with the budget approval date this year. Each Festival year, there is always a major challenge or change that seems impossible to solve, but somehow we always reach a solution. Thankfully, Lee is heading up the Fringe Festival and due to the work he is doing and we are doing collaboratively to restructure the festival staff, we will end up getting the puzzle together and no one will be the wiser to the challenges.
BIG NEWS! Last night we have made our decision on what firm will serve in the role of Project Manager for our Phase 2 renovation. We now have to go through a whole hiring and on-boarding process. It was a major decision for Fringe. We had so many qualified candidates. The final decision came down to experience, strength of team and previous work on similar projects. Once all is settled, we will make a big announcement on the team that was chosen.
Through the two-day interview process it really started to sink in that we are ACTUALLY doing this. That may seem silly or naïve to just be saying now. When I was 25 I came up with an idea to do an art center and wrote a five-year plan. Nothing happened. I went on my journey to working in Philly theatre, moved to DC. I never quite moved away from this idea of community building or goal. Now, 19 years later, here we go! With Thanksgiving week upon us I would be remised not to acknowledge how much gratitude I have for those who have helped me learn and continued to teach me over the past 19 years. I have had great teachers and advisors over the years. I will continue to do my best to represent and pass on what I have been taught and engage with even more inspiring teachers to evolve in years ahead.