Five Years of Fringe, The Uprising, and You

Hey, guys!  Do you know what 2016 is? 

Oh my god, Charm City Fringe Festival is FIVE!  That’s right - FIVE years old.  If you’re thinking about birthday presents, we are really into My Little Ponys and Star Wars action figures.  But, for real, in the past four years we have put on four festivals, two Nights on the Fringe, presented 65 artists, and served over 4,500 audience members.  You were so much a part of that, that we couldn’t possibly celebrate five years without including you.  Here are some ways to get involved!:

  • Applications are now open.  Always wanted to produce a play?  Have a brilliant idea that you want a safe place to play with?  Got a bunch of friends that have only gotten to play in your dad’s garage?  Apply to perform in CCFF Numero Cinco

  • Don’t have a show/aren’t particularly creative, but really, really want to get involved?  Don’t worry, we’ll need Venue Managers, Front of House Managers, and volunteers for lots of other great opportunities as well!

We are also excited to announce that for our fifth year, we are revamping the Bring Your Own Venue (BYOV) program.  This year, every BYOV venue will have their own venue manager and box office representative, to help facilitate ticket sales to your venue!

As a part of our year of celebration, Nights On the Fringe is returning bigger and better than ever.  July 8th and 9th at the Baltimore Theatre Project, you will be totally immersed, Vaudeville-style, in music, puppetry, dance, comedy, the works.  It’s gonna be hot and sexy, and so much better than staying home to “Netflix and chill.” We promise.  I mean, just look at the poster:

Aside from our usual festival programming, we are dedicated to expanding our education program this year.  The Fringe Academy has been actively engaged in working with students to find their voice through different forms of storytelling.  This semester culminated in a presentation as a part of the ARTRISING on April 26th, to “envision a Baltimore where peace and unity reign.”

This past year has been a time of transition for Charm City.  After spending a year working with NYU, I moved back to the city exactly one year ago.  On the day of the uprising.  I’ve got Old Bay in my blood, so it was important to me to find a way to make a difference here in the post-uprising time.  But all I have to give is the ability to facilitate art, and what art does do is give us a space to be, and a safe opportunity for challenging conversation.

Charm City Fringe Festival is an opportunity for us all to come together, with artists near and far, to talk, commune, and experience being an artist in Baltimore in this very, possibly most, important time.   

I hope that you will join us, as we celebrate five fantastic years in this most Charming of Cities.

-Kate Gibson, Production Chair

PS - Can’t join us, but want to contribute…  we take donations too!

Posted on May 1, 2016 .

We __________ (verb) You! (more title ad libs!)

Did you guess "Want?"

We hope so. We want you because we are about to begin accepting applications for the fifth annual Charm City Fringe Fest, coming this November 3-13, 2016. Young and new companies, undergrad or grad school groups, out-of-towners and traveling bards, one-person shows, established veterans of the theatre scene -- all are welcome to apply!

Artists, learn all you need to know on how to apply here. Applications run April 1 - June 26.

Five More Years!

One time only, new for 2016, Charm City Fringe is entering its fifth year! I mean really, this is hot stuff. But have you been able to catch one of our artist's shows yet? 

Now's your chance. We are bringing back Nights on the Fringe this July 8th and 9th at Baltimore Theatre Project. If you missed this last year, it is an immersive vaudevillian showcase of the arts. We are again bringing out buskers, walkabout performers, curating gallery works, and surprise guests. And that's just what you'll see before you get inside! Onstage you'll witness comedy, music, theatre, acrobats, dance, film and more.

Fringe Benefits

For this month's Benefits section, we're taking a gander at our Fringe Academy. Launched in 2015 with our Opening Act program, we are continuing our work in 2016, along with our wonderful partnership with the Choice Program. Inspired by the work of Baltimore's brilliant Stoop Storytelling series, students will explore the theatre and performing arts through the art of storytelling, utilizing a variety of performance and production tools to help them tell their story and find their voice. Since 2015, Fringe has worked with over 100 young adults, providing them volunteer opportunities, a chance to be a part of team-based projects, and empowerment through creative learning opportunities through the arts.

Jobs

As part of a new initiative with other regional Fringe Festivals, we are beginning a collective of sorts to provide a more established and dependable system for hiring and providing work our seasonal staff. Keep a lookout on our jobs section for more information, as well as new positions being posted in the coming weeks. In the meantime, visit our festival friends to the south: Capital Fringe in DC is currently hiring for the summer.

As always, reach out with any questions at any time. Thanks for reading!

-Zach Michel, Co-founder

Posted on March 8, 2016 .

Fringe Benefits

See what I did there?

Baltimore has a vibrant art world and everyone who makes it out, participates, or otherwise lends their time and money is a part of the progress we make in building a stronger arts industry and culture in Baltimore. We need your support to continue doing so.

Why is this important?

Good question, question maker, glad you asked. We started Fringe four years ago after seeing most of our artist friends flee to the four arts corners of the country (Washington, New York, Chicago, and LA).

Did we agree with this?

Of course not! We went to school in the city, grew up here, and love the possibilities (just look, we started a festival). But we understood it. It may be difficult to start your own thing in one of those cities, sure, but there are also seemingly endless possibilities to become a part of something. It is, simply put, currently a challenge to sustain yourself on the arts alone in Baltimore. There are wonderful works being put on by industry pillars Center Stage and Everyman. And the future of theatre is promising when you watch productions by younger up-and-coming companies. 

However, just as a town center is made up of more than one shop, a cultural center must be made up of a vibrant landscape of companies of all sizes and varieties. The quality is surely not missing from Baltimore, but what is needed is the concentration and variety. There are the aforementioned "giants," a handful of young companies with a modest staff, and then whole heaps of artists working for free or seeking out their niche elsewhere.

Theatre stalwarts The Strand and newcomers Interrobang Theatre Company know what a bear launching new works can be.

Theatre stalwarts The Strand and newcomers Interrobang Theatre Company know what a bear launching new works can be.

Simply put, we must come together and build on this scene, and Fringe is an important part of shaping this reality. The benefits abound. Young artists and companies are given the opportunity to focus on their art. The festival offers a platform for young companies to kick-start a season, it lessens the financial burden of producing, established companies can workshop a play, and traveling artists can find a home and an audience in a foreign city.

Through the festival, we take the onus off of companies to attain infrastructure. We bolster young companies. And the more young companies that establish themselves in the city, the more young people move to the city. The more young people that move to the city, the more people there are to see and support a vibrant arts scene. This is intensely important to both the creative future of Baltimore, but more so, the continued growth and ongoing Renaissance our city is experiencing.

We would be remiss to leave out the role that the riots and ongoing unrest from 2015 play in moving forward. But that means now, more than ever, we must decide and define our city's future. There are ongoing victories and setbacks in the course to repair our city and our city's image and we are excited to be a part of one of the defining industries. The arts can serve as grassroots PR for any city. It is a near-unwritten rule, joked about by those doing it and taken for granted (if even recognized) by many a policy-maker and businessperson, that artists play a vital role in creating and maintaining vibrant city centers.

However, the fact of the matter is that the power that artists wield as an agent for change in their communities is incredible.* Arts districts were once thought, and continue to be proven, to be powerful tools in catalyzing community revitalization and ongoing economic development. Charm City Fringe aims to augment these efforts by our arts districts** and continue our work to cultivate Baltimore as a hub for the arts. By fostering a sustainable model for producing new works, and drawing artists from around the city, state, and country, Fringe serves as a cultural ambassador for Baltimore.

How You Can Help

These artists, we must stress, are not only the reason for which we exist, but something that everyone should embrace and support if we wish to continue developing Baltimore. If you live in the city, be a part of it. Come out to shows, the Fringe Fest alone runs for 10 days each November. Volunteer! We are a growing organization and volunteering is a great way to have a huge impact, meet likeminded people, and find out what's going on in the arts world. There are heaps of shows by other artists as well - don't know where to look? Follow us on Facebook to see what we like, check out City Paper (I personally prefer the printed version), and talk to your friends and relatives.

On that note, talk to your friends and relatives. If you live in the city, tell them about the cool stuff you're seeing, remind everyone that you're not in The Wire, take them out. If you're a student, venture off campus, pay us a visit! If you don't live in the city, talk to people who do, find out what's going on, make a day of it. We promise you, there's a lot going on, from up-and-coming snack companies to a constant stream of shows, musical and otherwise, art galleries, and so much more

Like Baltimore, Fringe is developing at an alarming rate. Measuring attendance, production volume, or new programming (Fringe Academy (Spring 2016) and Nights on the Fringe (July 8-9, 2016)), Fringe has anywhere from doubled to tripled each year since 2012. However, we are a volunteer-run business. As such, we need your support to keep doing our part. So please, sign up to be a volunteer today, donate to support our programming, and tell your friends about us!

We've only scratched the surface of everything happening in Baltimore, but collectively we are all Fringe. We owe it to ourselves and to Baltimore to make sure we are a part of seeing our city develop.

-Zach Michel, Co-Founder

*Studies by the American Planning Association, as well as anecdotal evidence in Pittsburg and Yonkers surrounding the pronounced benefits of cultural and arts districts, reinforce this notion.

**Namely Station North and Bromo Seltzer, as well as area neighborhoods across the city.

Join us! Volunteer or make a tax-deductible contribution to the arts today through our secure account. Your contribution will directly bolster the ongoing efforts of Charm City Fringe and its year-round services to Baltimore's artists, audiences, and youth.

Holiday Wrap

Blink and you’ll miss it!

The 2015 Fringe Festival has wrapped, Thanksgiving has passed, and I lost my job! Before I take off for Portland and the Bay Area to visit some close friends in distant places, let’s fill you in on all the good stuff.

FESTIVAL PHOTOS

A hapless block of soy is eviscerated for the crowd's amusement in The Medicine Show [click image to see full photo].

We’re currently reconstructing our galleries to make them easier to view and a lot more attractive to boot. Check out how they look so far! Each year’s festival events are now viewable by clicking on each year’s respective poster, you might even find yourself in there!

AWARDS

This year’s winner of the 2015 Audience Choice Award went to the exciting, high-energy: THAT WAY MADNESS LIES: 30 Shakespeare Scenes in 60 Minutes, directed by Sarah Curnoles.

The 2015 Best of Fringe was a difficult choice, and went to the incredibly original, funny, and all-around Fringey: THE TRIAL OF HANNAH PORN, by Alexandra Tydings.

TALK TO US

We want to hear from you. Tell us what you liked, what you didn't, and what you want to see next year! Please fill out this brief survey that will help us to better serve you, our fans and readers, and pass it along.

THANK YOU

Thanks again for all of your support. As we often say, Fringe exists for you and because of you! Your support makes each year possible.

Please consider making a donation to support Fringe and our efforts to cultivate Baltimore as a hub for theatre and the performing arts, to elevate the status of our city, and to be a part of the solution! Click here or on the donate button below to make a tax-deductible contribution to Fringe before the end of the year.

Have a wonderful holiday season, and a safe New Year. See you in 2016!

Keep fringing,

Zach & Mike, Co-founders

100% Growth! 100% Better?

It's true! And we think so! We’ve got twice as many artists and venues this year, which means tons of options to choose from. Learn more about the festival, our new launch party, how to be a part of Fringe, and more below.

THE FESTIVAL

CCF is now an official member of the United States Association of Fringe Festivals, or USAFF for short. That’s helped attract 23 different artists and performing companies this year, coming from across the city, state, and even the country.

The full lineup with show descriptions and bios on all 23 artists is now live on our tickets & events page.

THE LAUNCH PARTY

New for this year, we are throwing a grand opening to kick off the festival at Joe Squared on November 5th at 7pm. Come celebrate in style, with live music, previews of this year’s festival artists, a photo booth, and more!

With your admittance to the launch party, you also receive your festival button, a drink ticket, snacks by Joe Squared, and drink specials all night.

Get your tickets now!

JOIN FRINGE

Be a part of the Charm City Fringe Festival! Want to see the inner workings of a festival, meet the artists, or just go to free shows? Sign up to volunteer today! Email volunteer@charmcityfringe.com with any questions.

Would you like to learn more about working for Fringe? Visit our jobs page to see all of our postings and how to apply.

FRINGE ACADEMY: IMAGINING AMERICA

The Charm City Fringe Academy participated with the Shriver Center and Choice Program at the Imagining America Conference on October 3rd and 4th. We explored our model of using art as a means of social justice and a catalyst for change.  Our workshops over the last month have prepared youth for short performances in dance, hip-hop, and scene work.  Through the conference, we are able to strengthen our current program and spread our message to other organizations across the country and look forward to continue growing the Academy in 2016.

We're so excited to welcome you out to Fringe this year. Can't wait to see you there!

Zach & Mike, Co-Founders