Fringeopolis – The Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival’s 30th Anniversary Edition

Fringe Theatre Adventures announced this afternoon the theme for the 30th anniversary edition of the popular summer festival: Fringeopolis.

The theme is a play on the “mini-municipality” that Old Strathcona turns into during the eleven days of the festival. The Fringe is inviting everyone to become a citizen of Fringeopolis for free on its website. You can also upgrade your membership by paying $20 to become a builder of Fringeopolis. Builders get a poster and program in addition to the benefits citizens receive (free transit with ETS, notifications, merchandise discounts, etc). I really love the concept, and I think they’re going to get a lot of traction with this theme. As an urbanite it definitely speaks to me.

From the press release:

“The Fringeopolis theme represents the city within a city that comes alive each August: a metropolis born of the creativity, artistic talent, innovation, and experimentation of our festival was founded on,” says Julian Mayne, Executive Director, Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival. “As producers of The Fringe, we believe the evolution of theatre is fundamental to the evolution of community, and Fringeopolis speaks to our past as a creative community, as well as to our future.”

Sam Jenkins and Thomas Scott helped launch the new theme.

Also announced today was a collaboration with the Art Creation Foundation for Children (ACFFC) of Jacmel, Haiti. Throughout the festival at KidsFringe, 10 young artists from the organization will create and perform folk stories and vignettes. EPL’s Writer-in-Residence Marty Chan is helping to develop the vignettes and Tanzanian author Tololwa Mollel is adapting the folk stories.

The Fringe is looking for more than 1200 volunteers for this year’s festival. Approximately 35,000 hours are dedicated to ensure the festival happens each year. You can learn more and fill out an application here. Be sure to check out Volunteer Edmonton’s 2011 Festival Volunteer Fair on Thursday at City Hall too.

The graphics and visual art for Fringeopolis was done by local artist Gabe Wong. I think it looks amazing!

Gabe Wong in front of his poster.

Last year nearly 160 productions by theatre companies played more than 40 stages across Edmonton. The festival also featured 200 outdoor performances and more than 50 busking acts. The Fringe sold 93,000 tickets last year, and more than 400,000 people visited the festival grounds. More than 1000 tickets sold on the first day of sales last year, and Frequent Fringer and Double Fringer passes were completely sold out in 24 hours. Make sure you get your tickets to this year’s event early!

Here’s a video created by Graphos for Fringeopolis:

Fringeopolis runs August 11 – 21, 2011 at venues throughout Old Strathcona and beyond. Stay tuned to the website or Twitter for more information in the weeks ahead! You can also see what others are saying on Twitter using the hashtag #yegfringe.

Edmonton & Winnipeg Fringe Festivals break records in 2009

The final numbers for the 28th Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival were released yesterday: a record-breaking 92,279 tickets were sold over 11 days. Less than a month ago, the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival announced that it had sold 81,565 tickets over 12 days, a new record at the time for fringe festivals in North America. Edmonton held the previous record – 77,700 tickets in 2006.

Clearly, this year has been a good one for North America’s two largest fringe festivals. Being the stats junkie that I am, I decided to look up the ticket sales for Edmonton and Winnipeg in recent years. I was able to find solid numbers for 2002 onward:

These numbers come from newspaper articles as well as press releases from the festivals themselves. There are a few minor discrepancies depending on which source you look at. For example, this year’s numbers for Winnipeg are inconsistent – the official site says 81,353 but all the media articles say 81,565. I went with the number I saw most often.

In tabular form:

Year Edmonton Winnipeg
2009 92279 81565
2008 77204 72722
2007 74693 71921
2006 77700 69320
2005 70700 66315
2004 60442 68470
2003 68000 67002
2002 68925 62801

I’m sure there’s a spreadsheet of ticket sales for all of the Canadian fringe festivals somewhere, but I haven’t been able to track it down (looking at you CAFF). I wanted to see how Edmonton and Winnipeg compared with other cities in Canada. It didn’t take long to find the numbers for 2007, which while slightly out of date, give you an idea of the relative size of each festival:

The red area is the metro population for each city, to show how big each festival is relative to the overall population. Edmonton and Winnipeg are clearly in a class of their own!

I look forward to the fringe each year, and I’m obviously not the only one. Here’s to hoping the friendly competition between Edmonton and Winnipeg continues to benefit both cities for years to come!