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The show must go on: Vancouver Fringe Festival launches fundraiser to keep itself afloat

Vancouver Fringe Festival

Coming into its 40th year of putting theatre artists in the spotlight, the Vancouver Fringe Festival says it’s facing an uncertain future.

The festival announced Tuesday that it’s scaling down its upcoming event by a third. Last year, Fringe staged just over 85 productions, which will be cut back to about 60 for 2024.

Fringe also launched an “emergency” fundraising campaign, asking for $80,000 from the community to help with its financial woes and make sure the show goes on.

“Many arts organizations are struggling right now,” executive director Duncan Watts-Grant said in a release. “Since 2022, we’ve been drawing on our savings to produce the festival, and this isn’t sustainable. We want to continue offering the Vancouver Fringe for another 40 years; to do that, we must raise funds.”

Costs have risen since the pandemic, but donations and sponsorships haven’t bounced back, he explained.

What makes fringe festivals unique is that they give 100 per cent of ticket profits back to artists, and subsidize about 75 per cent of production costs such as lighting and sound equipment for companies. Fringes across Canada also operate on a lottery system, so anyone who wants to put on a show has the chance. “This method aims to reduce gatekeeping, improve equity and create space for independent artists who don’t have performance opportunities elsewhere,” reads the release.

“When you buy a ticket at a Fringe, you are directly supporting the artist on the stage. When you make a donation to the festival itself, you are helping that artist gain access to the platform and the resources they need to get to the stage in the first place,” explained Amy Blackmore, president of the Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals.

So far, the fundraiser has garnered $19,672 out of its $80,000 goal.

This year's Fringe Festival will run from Sept. 5 to Sept. 15. Top Stories

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