Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Notes from the Meet N Greet Last Night

Had another great Meet N Greet last night - the turn out was smaller, just four folks aside from the Fringe folks, but they were mighty. We had a representative of Sideshow Theatre present. We ended up talking quite a bit about fundraising - which didn't hurt any!

We now officially have an International Coordinator. So now I am feeling much more confident that we'll be able to attempt having folks outside of North America perform at the Fringe. I wasn't sure that we'd be able to pull it off the first year, but it's looking optimistic.

As before, I will send the full notes to anyone who asks - but for the sake of this post, I will abridge the full notes. Keep in mind we are going to do one more of these this year - On October 20th. Still working out a venue at present, but it'll likely be in Pilsen.

9/28/09 Meet N Greet

Board members: Mikayla, Vinnie, Amanda, Adrienne

Others present: 4

Introductions: Mikayla: brief bio and reason for doing this, Amanda, Adrienne, Vinnie

Stephanie: knows Vinnie, majored in theatre then retired, spent lots of time with Dublin Fringe

Karie: education/outreach for Sideshow Theatre and point person for Fringe interests, seeing what Fringe is about, looking to perform in as well as support Fringe

Jason: formerly lived in Orlando, surprised Chicago didn't have theatre festival like Fringe, friend became fan on FB and J saw it

Danielle: likes volunteering for cool stuff, volunteer coordinator for soup kitchen/homeless shelter


- Distinguishing characteristics: moving the festival each year (first year in Pilsen), first week in September 2010 (9/1-9/5), enthusiastic venues in Pilsen, 30-35 shows, show selection by lottery system for equanimity, looking for both national and international flavor, multiple shows during time frame, each show is in same venue but slot changes, times: 4-11 W-F, 12-11 S-S, possibility for midnight shows, run times less than 1 hour, minimize improv 80% scripted or planned, looking to avoid censorship, sketch shows can be theatrical, giving 100% of ticket sales back to performer (contingent on fundraising success), looking for event planner/development coordinator


- copyrighted material: performers have to secure rights

- number of shows each company can submit to the lottery? question to be answered at some point in the future, limit number of applications, company can submit 3 to lottery but only perform 1? lottery pulls company/artist name rather than show and company/artist name has to provide show, onus of company to ensure everyone who can perform will be available to do so

- everyone on fan page on FB, can select to have all your friends made fans, mailinglist@chicagofringe.org, encourage friends, neighbors, colleagues

- fundraising event soon (end of Oct/early Nov), comment: fundraising on the north side if everyone you know is there and start moving as buzz gets built

- canvas underserved neighborhoods: standing on street corners and talking to people, putting theatre in places that aren't theatres,

- shutting down street involves a shitload of money

- busking? Fringe cafe idea - an ongoing open mic of sorts in a casual setting

- at least one outdoor venue

- Other fundraising ideas: Quick and dirty: how to make money, give them an experience, $20 at door gives them drinking for two hours plus other stuff, make it an event; dancing/dance marathon? what is in the spirit of Fringe?; costume displays of previous shows as part of a larger event; need an energetic and fun emcee; theatre companies can donate tickets, performers, arm wrestlers

- time commitment for staff positions: at least 3 hours per week, mostly email, staff meetings once per month

- we've given and continue to give lots of thought towards what Chicago needs and how to find the niche

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Notes From Our First Meet N Greet

The Meet N Greet on the 18th at Mary Arrchie was excellent. We had a great turnout, about 15 folks (though I suspect some didn't fill out our sign in sheet - da bastards!) Representatives from Blank Line Collective, New Leaf Theatre, the Mammals and Tympanic Theatre were there; alongside some enthused recent grads, some skilled free agents and four of our current board members. The conversation was at turns heated, positive, but altogether thrilling. Ideas came up that I'm certain that we wouldn't have thought of on our own.

The next Meet N Greet is this coming Monday, September 28, from 7-9 at St. Andrew's Church meeting hall - at the southeast corner of Addison and Hermitage. They are designed to be an opportunity for the producers to meet folks interested in being volunteer staff members, and also a chance to riff with the theatre community about how we can best serve them.

We will also have one on Tuesday, October 20 - hopefully somewhere in Pilsen. I'll keep you posted.

So without further ado, the notes! I originally thought of posting them in their entirety, but I think I'd be asking a lot of the readership of this blog. I'm happy to send them out in their entirety to anyone who would like to see them though - just send a request to mikayla@chicagofringe.org. Transparency is always our goal. Below is a summary version.

Board members in attendance: Mikayla, Vinnie, Adrienne, Anne

Other people in attendance: 15

We introduced ourselves and spoke of the decisions that have been made about the festival so far, namely that we are producing it in the Pilsen neighborhood in September 2010, but have the intention to moving it to a different neighborhood each year, in keeping with our mission of connecting diverse groups of artists and audience members. We would like to keep the event geographically centralized no matter where it occurs. We will select shows by lottery, but are open to possibility of having sub lotteries for geographical considerations.

From there we opened the floor to questions/comments/concerns. It ended up being a pretty open group discussion. Topics that came up:

-how does this serve the Chicago community? should not be just another opportunity to produce; is good that it brings in artists from Nebraska or wherever; it serves to bring in foreign language theatre, good to facilitate blending of artists, different neighborhoods all in one community, great way to publicize smaller theatres out there, getting a larger community to the theatre

- shows? roughly 60 minutes, steering away from improv and sketch as it's already represented at the Chicago Improv Festival and Sketchfest

- specifications/application process? 2 page application, basic description, still working out specs, trying not to censor, mostly making sure applicants "have their shit together"

- make money? would like 100% of ticket sales to go back to artists

- self marketing? will be encouraged, we will market the festival and there will be access to each show but individual marketing is the responsibility of the project

- # of shows? 30-35 plays, 5-6 venues, Wed-Sun run, staggered times, outdoor and alternative spaces possible. Would go to be larger over time.

- specific volunteer staff positions looking to fill? events planning and fundraising are the immediate, looking for experienced leaders

- reviews? see what happens with the print community, NY reviews every show, DC reviews every show in equivalent of Reader and online, MN has active audience community where the audience rates shows after seeing them

- geographical center for the festival each year to buy tickets, shirts, get info, see previews

- how to engage diverse communities? (open question to the masses), next meeting should be in Pilsen, reach out to groups already in existence, include disabled artists, reach out to people you know

- take away? Facebook pages, word of mouth, get people on mailing list, find fundraising opportunities, online fundraiser (chipin.com)

- pair an out of town company with an in town company? social function only? one of the shows could be a combo show between a Chicago and out of town theatre, but could give one show an unfair advantage

- boost to theatres in the neighborhood? host theatres paired with out-of-towners as a "special" thing

- what's in it for me? recognition, don't have to leave your doorstep to see amazing stuff that isn't native

- get everyone excited, get donations from theatres in the city

- basic timeline (on website)

- fundraiser in Pilsen?

- students as free labor, Northwestern

- love to see street closed down on Saturday (ask alderman)

- other ideas for contacts: City of Chicago tourism website, office of the mayor, explorechicago.com, DCA , International Arts Festivals (film, dance, etc,) get involved, trade info

Monday, September 21, 2009

More Meet N Greets

So there was a little confusion as to the dates of the Meet N Greets, so we actually have two more scheduled as of now (we are planning to do at least one more in October):

Monday, September 21 & Monday September 28

7-9 pm
St. Andrews Church
Social Hall
Hermitage and Addison, Southeast Corner

Thursday, September 17, 2009

"Follow Your Bliss"

Are you a fan of Joseph Campbell? I've got this great distinct memory of being in a Humanities course at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (the wonderful Mr. Kinsella being my professor and mentor) and watching The Power of Myth, a film about his seminal non fiction text. Near the end Campbell has this wistful moment where he says something to the effect that if you do what you love, doors will open, opportunities will manifest. At the time I was about 21, and basically just half assing it to get through my degree in English so that I could go off and do Theatre (where or how, I had no clue). Mr. Kinsella knew that, and he knew how skeptical most people around me were about my hopes, and how hard I had to fight to keep pursuing it; how really, on some level, I just felt like some pathetic lumpy piece of dashed dreams. Mr. Kinsella gave me a knowing look; I teared up. He knew how powerful that statement was to me.

Producing Fringe is effin terrifying. It's huge, complex, mathematical, political; everything. It's also just so sweet. While I still might have my day job, being able to work on this feels so right. This week I was feeling a bit of the old self doubt creeping in. Can I really do this? I say to myself...

But then things happen that can only be described as coincidences to the some, and mythical to a few. I tend to view things as the mysterious option in life personally. Makes it more fun.

We've been trying to put together a fundraising event for this fall. I wouldn't say any of us are proven experts. I have put several together in the past for my former theatre company, Tantalus, but I wouldn't say they were exemplary.

Then I specifically get an email from a woman with and outstanding resume who SPECIFICALLY states that she is very interested in fundraising. I also start to think that, hell, there are bound to be people at these Meet N Greets who would be great on a Fundraising and Events Committee. Ain't life grand? I don't need to worry about every little detail. If the last few weeks have taught me anything, it's that people are pumped for Fringe, and happy to volunteer their mad skills to making it happen.

So for me - passion and vision are key. Those qualities attract people to us who DO have the specific skills we're missing. Not only is it going to happen, but it's going to be great.

I just realized that this post probably sounds like The Secret (I've not read it) and you probably just lost all respect for me. Alas.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Blasted Human Error!

Today I got a mailing list request into my spam folder. I saw it and thought, ok let me retrieve this. I accidently checked it to delete and now it's lost forever! Blasted! I'm pretty sad about this. So poor poor anonymous soul who wanted to be added to the mailing list... if you haven't gotten our mailing about the meet n greets through your email, you didn't make it on! Please email us again at mailinglist@chicagofringe.org to be added.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Meet N Greets for the Chicago Theatre Community Scheduled

I’m pleased to announce that we are hosting two Chicago Fringe Festival Meet N Greets in the coming weeks.

These events are designed to be a casual dialogue between the producers of the Chicago Fringe Festival, Inc and the local theatre community, in particular those interested in getting involved as administrators. It is also designed to be a forum where both serious concerns and innovative ideas can be shared. We plan on having more of these events in the future.

Please feel free to attend one or both; detailed notes from the meetings will be posted to our blog at www.chicagofringe.blogspot.com in the week following the Greets.

Details follow below. We hope to see you there!

Friday, September 18
7-9 pm
Mary-Arrchie Theatre Co. Angel Island735 W. Sheridan Road(1 block South of Irving Park at Broadway)Chicago, IL 60613


Monday, September 28
7-9 pm
St. Andrews Church
Social Hall
Hermitage and Addison, Southeast Corner

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Email Love Fest

It's such a pleasure to see my inbox nowadays - it's flooding with a combination of "join mailing list", "so and so is following you on twitter" and "so and so wants to be your friend on Facebook." Further, I'm getting more and more emails from enthused artists that want to either volunteer on the production side, or bring a show to Fringe. It's CRAZY! The Time Out article sent this whole operation into overdrive.

Please stayed tuned! As always we are endeavoring to move faster and keep you more informed.

Did you see that the website is updated? www.chicagofringe.org