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 www.rochesterfringe.com 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.