Saturday, December 8, 2007

Review: The Boulder Fringe

The Boulder Fringe

Mr. Fringey's Description: Like a Breath of fresh air out of your neighbors oxygen tank (you have to use his mask and tubes and he’s 77)
Mr. Fringey’s Festival Ranking: 2 ½ bow ties out of 5

Sunny-side: The fringe staff runs a tight, friendly ship. The nightly CRAB, (a talk-show-like-fringe event at the Laughing Goat Café, and hosted by Eddie the Eskimo, who interviews performers about their shows), is one of the best, funniest events in the entire world, the Boulder air will heal your soul and feed your creative spirit.

Flip Side: It’s a new fringe, the crowds are minimal, as an out-of-towner you’ll be lucky to break even, it’s an expensive town to eat and play in, many of the shows are produced by Naropa University students or alumni which gives the festival an incestuous quality, downtown Boulder feels like Disney-land meets a Crate and Barrel Catalogue, it’s really, really white.

Your Money Sock: I won’t lie. This is a pricey fringe. There are very few places to get cheap food, so you shouldn’t plan on doing this fringe unless you bring an extremely large extra curricular activity fee stocking. Out-of-towners should cross their fingers to break even on this fringe.

How to Fill Your Seats: Local artists like Gemma Wilcox or dance companies out of Denver will pack houses, but don’t plan on doing it yourself unless you have a marketing angle up your sleeve. The crowds here are pretty small, though typical of a new fringe festival. Handing out your postcards downtown and putting flyers in shop windows won’t fill your house either because most typical people in the street haven’t heard about the fringe. Best bet for marketing is the usual route: Stand outside the most popular local shows and hand out your cards as others exit and enter the show. Though in other fringes, this method will literally assure you’ll fill your venue, it won’t necessarily work the way it’s supposed to in Boulder. Don’t be discouraged. You’ll work for your crowd in Boulder.

It reminds me of when I went to work in the canneries in Alaska to “make bank.” The year I arrived, the salmon runs were extremely low. Everyone said the salmon were having problems returning because of oil spills, climate changes, etc. I never made bank and had to borrow money to get home. I did however enjoy the hell out of the air in Alaska and would go there to breathe again if given the chance.

Marketing Angle: With a large article in the Boulder Weekly and another prominent interview in the Daily Camera, I knew it wasn’t enough to pull in a crowd. (Good media coverage will, at it’s best, only bring in 2-5 tickets per show). I sent e-vites out to all the Jewish organizations in town and that went out in their newsletters. I also took a stack of comps down to the newspapers who had given me coverage. I averaged about 25 audience members per show even during off times/days.

Fringe Specs:

Age in Fringe Years: Your run of the mill, mainstream 4 year old toddler.

Festival Dates: August 14 - 25

Application Deadline: December 15.

Applying: On-line application form with $30.

Festival Cost: $665

Ticket Prices: 100% of door. 0-$15 – Performers see other shows for free.

Payment: In cash each night. Other money sent within 30 days. (I got my money about 60 days later)

Showcase: One night where all performers get to showcase one-minute of their work.

Venue Location: All venues are briskly walk-able to one another. Fringe Central - The Dairy Center of the Arts - houses 3 venues and has a café where performers can hang out with one another.

Travel-in: Fly into Denver and then take a bus into Boulder. You can get a ticket downstairs (near baggage claim) at the local bus desk. One way is $10 and it’s extremely easy.

Travel Advisory: By foot, by bike, by bus! But be careful, the bus system stops running at midnight, so you’ll have to cut your fringe festivities short some nights.

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