Minnesota Fringe Festival

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Minnesota Fringe Festival
Minnesota Fringe Festival logo, 2015.png
Current Fringe logo
Location(s) Minneapolis/Saint Paul, Minnesota
Foundation 1994
Date(s) July 30—August 9, 2015
Type of play(s) Comedy, drama, dance, musical, something different
Official website

The Minnesota Fringe Festival is a performing arts festival held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States, every summer, usually during the first two weeks in August. The eleven-day event, which features performing artists of many genres and disciplines, is one of many Fringe Festivals in North America. Minnesota Fringe is the largest nonjuried festival in the United States[1] and the third-largest Fringe festival in North America. In 2013, Minnesota Fringe ran August 1–11 and featured 176 shows with a total of 895 performances in multiple venues around the city and distributed 50,007 tickets over the eleven-day event. In 2007, attendance and box office revenue were adversely affected by the collapse of the I-35W bridge the day before the festival opened.

Fringe shows are 60 minutes or less and appear in an official venue supplied by the festival for five performances stretched out over the festival's eleven days. Venues vary widely, with capacities ranging from 55 to over 400, and available configurations include black-box, proscenium, thrust or arena stages. Past venues include Minneapolis Theatre Garage, HUGE Improv Theater, Mixed Blood Theatre mainstage, Theatre de la Jeune Lune's side stage and the four stages at the University of Minnesota's Rarig Center.[2] Normally, eleven shows will share a venue.

Performing companies that participate in the Fringe split a share of the ticket revenues with the festival and pay an application fee. Currently, the artists' share is 65 percent of the box office revenue.

The 2014 festival, which ran July 31 - August 10, marked the 21st annual festival. The current executive director is Jeff D. Larson, who succeeded Robin C. Gillette in 2013.[3]

Minnesota Fringe Festival is a founding member of United States Association of Fringe Festivals (USAFF).[4]

Features of the Minnesota Fringe[edit]

The Donner Party Kidz!, a show from the 2012 Festival

Nonjuried entry[edit]

Minnesota Fringe Festival is nonjuried; that is, the performers and shows are not vetted by a panel of judges ahead of time. Companies that wish to perform submit applications and are drawn by lottery, a practice that replaced the festival's former method of "first come, first served" in 2004.

Performance categories[edit]

The festival is open to all performing artists. Show genres typically include comedy (scripted and improv), drama, dance (classical, modern and ethnic), puppetry, musical theater, opera and shows for/by children and teens. Minnesota Fringe, like many fringe festivals, has proven to be an excellent launching point for new work.[5]


Each venue is wheelchair-accessible and the festival offers ASL-interpreted shows for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, as well as audio-described shows for the blind.[6]

"Bring Your Own Venue"[edit]

In the past, Minnesota Fringe has provided an option for companies to produce site-specific work outside the official venues. The Bring Your Own Venue (BYOV) option was only available for shows that could not normally fit into a traditional theater space. Past BYOV shows have been staged in places such as a clothing store dressing area, a swimming pool, an art gallery and a coffee shop. In 2006, 23 shows, a record number, performed in BYOV slots.[7]


The Minnesota Fringe Festival Website operates year-round. All of the shows in the yearly festival are up for review by any audience member who registers on the site. Shows are rated on a scale of 0 to 5 stars along with a written review. Each show is assigned an overall star rating based on the average of all the reviews received. Minnesota Fringe also retains a staff of photographers who attend shows and return photographs for the festival's daily slide show. During the six-week 2013 festival period, the site received over a million pageviews.


Three men in hats and beige or brown outfits dance on a dark stage
Jumpin' Jack Kerouac at the U of M Rarig Proscenium in 2014

2014: 169[8]
2013: 176
2012: 163
2011: 167
2010: 169
2009: 162
2008: 156

2014: 878[8]
2013: 895
2012: 829
2011: 865
2010: 876
2009: 843
2008: 808

Ticket Sales
2014: 50,265[8]
2013: 50,007
2012: 46,284
2011: 48,432
2010: 50,256
2009: 46,217
2008: 40,926

Total Artist Payout
2014: $258,738[8]
2013: $245,223[9]
2012: $230,997
2011: $243,792[10]
2010: $249,116
2009: $215,600
2008: $193,293


  1. ^ Royce, Graydon (August 11, 2014). "Fringe Festival hits new ticket record". Star Tribune. Retrieved November 24, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Minnesota Fringe will have 20 Minneapolis venues". St. Paul Pioneer Press. March 26, 2014. Retrieved November 24, 2014. 
  3. ^ Combs, Marianne (June 17, 2013). "MN Fringe Festival hires new Executive Director". State of the Arts (Minnesota Public Radio). Retrieved November 21, 2014. 
  4. ^ "What is Fringe?". United States Association of Fringe Festivals. Retrieved November 21, 2014. 
  5. ^ "The Minnesota Fringe Festival and the Popularity of New Plays"; 2AMt blog, Max "Bunny" Sparber; 19 August 2010
  6. ^ "Accessible Fringe Festival Returns for 13th Season". Access Press. July 10, 2006. Archived from the original on October 14, 2006. Retrieved November 24, 2014. 
  7. ^ Papatola, Dominic; "Wrinkle in the rules requires some fringers to get a place lift"; St. Paul Pioneer Press; 3 August 2006
  8. ^ a b c d "Minnesota Fringe: The 2014 Annual Report" (PDF). Minnesota Fringe Festival. 2014. p. 4. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 21, 2014. Retrieved November 21, 2014. 
  9. ^ "2013 Fringe Festival tops 50,000 tickets". St. Paul Pioneer Press. September 5, 2013. Retrieved November 21, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Minnesota Fringe: 2011 annual report" (PDF). Minnesota Fringe Festival. 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 23, 2013. Retrieved November 21, 2014. 

External links[edit]