The Latest Update from the Vancouver Fringe Festival
Dear Fringe Family,
It’s hard to believe that 2020 is really behind us!
As we look back at the past year, we’re incredibly grateful to have delivered three successful mini-Fringes in an experimental staggered format, from September to November. We’re so proud to have been able to offer an opportunity to Fringe artists despite the pandemic. Each production in the 2020 Fringe was able to create a valuable artistic experience for the Fringe community, succeeding both artistically and financially. Vancouver Fringe audiences proved that we’re all still hungry for stories and connection even if it meant we sat six feet apart in our household bubbles.
Our team of permanent and seasonal staff, along with our board of directors, pulled off a whole new staggered format for presenting Fringe shows. Of course, we couldn’t have done any of this without our amazing volunteers, who jumped in immediately when the call went out, and who helped guide artists and audience members safely through each performance.
Although we focused on making live events our 2020 priority, we experimented in the digital space with online readings, workshops and Indigenous, Black, People of Colour (IBPOC) meetups, an opening night celebration, and lots more.
Despite the year’s successes, our hearts are with all those who couldn’t participate as part of our Fringe Family this year, from out-of-town artists across the country and international artists, to performers, patrons, and volunteers who couldn’t attend in-person events for a variety of health and safety considerations. At times, navigating the pandemic meant that our vision of “Theatre for Everyone” wasn’t a reality in 2020, and we are firmly committed to finding new ways to bring more of this back in 2021. However, we know that the 2021 Festival will also be affected by pandemic realities.
With that in mind, we are busy imagining, dreaming, fundraising, and planning what the 2021 Festival might look like, with health and safety as our top priority. We now have comprehensive health and safety plans for in-person events, and the valuable experience of putting on a live festival during a pandemic. As long as it is safe to do so and permitted by our provincial and federal health and safety orders, we will prioritize these in-person performances. For 2021, we are also excited to explore further digital programming, as we investigate ways to support artists in digital or live-digital hybrid formats. We are still in the early stages of planning and learning from our past activities, but keep an eye out in the spring of 2021 for more announcements on this front. The opportunities to experiment, innovate and continue to Shift our Perspectives at the Vancouver Fringe are enormous.
A note for Fringe artists of the future: we are still determining whether we will be able to accommodate a new lottery for 2021, and want to be transparent that if it takes place, it will be to fill a smaller range of slots or possibly to join the wait-list. Our priority is to accommodate our 2020 slate of artists who were not able to participate last year, and we are still expecting to work under health and safety restrictions, reduced capacities, and fewer suitable venues. This is a key decision for our 2021 festival planning, and we will deliver an update in the spring of 2021 if not sooner.
Finally, we want to share that we are deeply grateful for the overwhelming support and thoughtful feedback we have received from everyone in the Fringe Family, through your attendance, donations, social media shares, and word-of-mouth buzz. While we don’t know yet what 2021 might hold for all of us, we’ll be back, and we’re excited by the possibilities and opportunity to keep presenting live theatre. Keep an eye out for further updates from us – we’re aiming for early April, if not before. Until we meet again, stay safe and support the arts!
The Vancouver Fringe Festival Team