What is The Fringe?
A Fringe Festival is a forum that unites artists and audiences in a fun, exploratory environment. The guiding principles of the Fringe include unrestricted artistic expression, accessibility and community development.
The Fringe encourages artists to explore and test boundaries and make bold choices in the creation of art.
The Canadian Fringe Festival model is unique in two respects: it guarantees that the artists receive 100% of ticket revenue and it does not subject the artists’ work to jury approval or censor it in any way. Theatre companies are selected by non-judicial means and work within the technical guidelines of the Fringe Festival to produce their own art. Festival patrons enjoy physically and financially accessible arts experiences and the opportunity to engage in meaningful dialogues with artists and fellow Fringe patrons.
Founded in 1997, the Ottawa Fringe Festival has enjoyed consistent growth over its 16 years and now includes 15 venues in the center of the National Capital. Our licensed outdoor venue, The Courtyard (corner of Daly and Waller), serves as the heart of the Fringe and features nightly entertainment. It’s the best place to meet performers, catch the buzz on hot Fringe shows and see previews for other performances.
Fringe Festivals trace their roots to Scotland when in 1947 several theatre companies not invited to participate in the first Edinburgh International Festival staged shows on the fringe of official venues, setting up wherever they could find space, finding audiences by word of mouth, and succeeding (or failing) on the strength of their talents alone.
The Fringe’s mandate is to afford all artists the opportunity to produce their art, regardless of experience, content, form or style; and to make the event as affordable and accessible as possible for the community. The result is a vibrant and exciting artistic environment whereby the audiences – not juries – decide which are the good shows, the bad, and the extravagantly awful shows.
Embracing this spirit of artistic freedom, the first North American Fringe Festival was established in Edmonton in 1982. Audiences were wildly enthusiastic and the Edmonton Fringe is now second only to the Edinburgh Festival in size. Encouraged by this tremendous success, many cities across Canada and United States created Fringe Festivals of their own, each with its own distinctive style, but all adhering to the principles of accessibility, affordability and artistic daring.
The Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals
The Ottawa Fringe Festival is a member of the Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals (CAFF) (www.fringefestivals.com). CAFF has established a set of guidelines and philosophies to which each Fringe Festival must adhere. Fringe Festival performers are selected in a non-juried process, and the Festival exercises no control over the artistic content of the performances. In addition, 100% of ticket revenue is returned directly to the artists themselves.
Each year, the CAFF touring circuit provides more than 800 theatre companies with an opportunity to present their work in a supportive environment. This circuit appeals to nearly one million people who attend Fringe Festivals in North America every year. This circuit allows for the continued evolution and development of artists and audiences from around the world.