Anonymous Willpower: Eastman Doctoral Student Takes on Rochester’s First Fringe Festival

Univ. Communications – Erin Futterer, ’14E (DMA), a doctoral candidate studying horn performance at the Eastman School of Music, has lent her strong musical background and passion for “cross-media” into helping plan Rochester’s first Fringe Festival, which will take place from September 19-23.

A native of Arkansas, Futterer graduated from Northwestern University in 2007, majoring in horn performance, and went abroad for her masters, studying at the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo, Norway. While there, she impressively combined her master’s studies with a Fulbright fellowship studying under world-renowned horn musician and teacher Frøydis Ree Wekre.

In addition to earning her degree at Eastman, Futterer works as a teaching assistant at the River Campus and stays involved in multiple arts and musical associations, including the Arts Leadership Program, Pegasus Early Music, and the Sound Exchange Group of Musicians. This summer, she embarked on her latest endeavor, helping to plan the Fringe Festival through an internship with the Catherine Filene Shouse Arts Leadership Program.

According to Futterer, the festival is an avenue for “promoting artistic culture” and helps to “connect different artistic mediums.” The event will feature local Rochester musicians, artists, dancers, and performers, complemented by headliners Patton Oswald, the Harlem Gospel Choir, and aerial dance group Project Bandaloop.

The concept of the “fringe” tradition started in Edinburgh in 1947 when eight theater groups turned up at the Edinburgh International Festival uninvited and decided to perform at venues they organized themselves.  Today, Fringe Festivals are held in nearly 200 cities around the world, including 20 cities in the U.S.

Fringe Festival Director Erica Fee ’99, whom Futterer describes as an “incredible mentor,” gave her the chance to contribute to the festival in any way that she wanted. Futterer says she picked the “fun job” of party planner, helping to organize a launch party aimed at getting the performers to know and support each other.

Futterer explains that a major aim of the festival is to “bring people of different specialties together” so artists of different mediums can get to know each other as “comrades rather than competitors.” She notes that one of the best things about the festival is that it is “100% nonprofit” and provides little-known artists and performers with greater recognition and support.

More than 20 venues have lent their support for the effort, with shows at Geva Theater, Eastman Theater, Millennium Park, and Little Theater, among others. Gibbs St. in downtown Rochester will shutdown to host the weekend-long festival. The effort has the support of many local businesses in the Rochester community, including the Boylan Code Law Firm in the Culver Road Armory, in which festival board meetings are held, several Rochester schools, including the University of Rochester and Eastman, as well as its biggest sponsor, First Niagara Bank.

Futterer has been thrilled about the process of organizing the Fringe, getting to know some amazing people in Rochester, and being a part of the effort to bring the city’s “hidden arts culture” and “little gems” up to the surface for more people to experience. She also appreciates that the festival “doesn’t speak to a certain age level or a certain genre … it is something for everybody.” The Fringe features 120 different shows, and covers a wide range of art forms:  theatre, dance, comedy, music, film, visual arts, multidisciplinary, children’s, and variety.

Tickets for the Fringe Festival are available at the Eastman Theatre Box Office on 433 East Main Street, Wegmans “That’s the Ticket!” locations, at the door of all venue locations, and on the festival’s website, A festival guide, which is featured on the website, provides listings of all shows and venues.

Article written by Caitlin Mack, an intern in University Communications.

University to Participate in First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival

Univ. Communications – Rochester’s East End district and the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music will be at the center of the First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival when it opens with entertainment headliners and self-produced shows from Sept. 20 to 23. Students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to apply by April 14 to share their talents in theater, dance, visual arts, music, comedy, and other creative pursuits.

“The First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival is about inspiring even more creativity throughout Rochester’s large and talented artistic community, as well as attracting a large, diverse audience for their work,” said University President Joel Seligman. “The University has always been a passionate advocate for strengthening this city, and we believe that this festival will do just that.”

Erica Fee, who is the festival’s producer, a native of Victor, and a University alumna, described the independent shows that sprang up around the official 1947 Edinburgh International Festival in Scotland as the start of the fringe festival movement. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is now the world’s largest arts festival and runs for a month.

“Rochester’s four-day Fringe will also have that fun ‘expect-the-unexpected feel’ while showcasing everything from theater and dance, to visual arts and music, to comedy and family entertainment,” explained Fee. “There will truly be something for everyone!”

Individual artists, groups, and producers of all types can apply online at for a place at the festival’s official venues, which include such locations as Kilbourn Hall and Hatch Recital Hall at the Eastman School, Java’s, and the Rochester Museum and Science Center’s Strasenburgh Planetarium. More East End locations will be added. Applicants also have the option to “Bring Your Own Venue” by discovering a location and gaining permission to use a site within the festival’s footprint.

Fringe festivals number about 200 worldwide with 20 in the United States, festival organizers say. Those closest to Rochester are in Toronto and Philadelphia. The First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival will be the second location for New York State after New York City’s.

The festival’s board of directors includes representatives from the Rochester Downtown Development Corp., the University of Rochester, the Eastman School of Music, Rochester Institute of Technology, Boylan Code LLC, and Mengel Metzger Barr. Many local cultural institutions support the effort, including Geva Theatre Center, the George Eastman House, and Garth Fagan Dance, as well as newer groups such as PUSH Physical Theatre and Method Machine.

To submit your show or for more information, visit the festival website at, follow them on Twitter at @rochesterfringe, and like them on Facebook.

Article written by Valerie Alhart, humanities press officer in University Communications.


Rochester Fringe Festival logo courtesy of