A History of the Boulder Fringe
Photo Credit ALOC Media
In 2004, Donna Gartenmann, Boulder Arts Commissioner, invited David Ortolano to a task force meeting to help steer the initiation of an arts festival in the city. The purpose of the initiative was to:
1) Unify the community through the arts,
2) Attract the local artistic community into venues where they could present work in a professional setting
3) Educate artists about collaboration, artistic value and excellence in community programming
4) Attract tourism to the local community through cultural artistic programs.
At that time, Ortolano, the Boulder Fringe founder, created a series of public forums and dialogues in which 107 arts organizers in the local region participated and gave feedback. He then converted the feedback into a basic business plan for the festival. To date, the mission remains the same. The Boulder International Fringe Festival produces an annual festival, and, in addition, often produces plays, concerts, parties, workshops and special events throughout the year.
There are more than 52 Fringe Festivals held in cities throughout North America, with another 50+ Fringe Festivals occurring in Europe, Asia, and Australia. The Boulder Fringe follows a model adapted loosely from the original Fringe Festival, which first took place in 1947 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The Edinburgh Fringe simply programs artists on a first come, first served basis, and those accepted produce their own shows, find their own venues, organize staff, market their work, and are in very steep competition with each other.
Unlike the original Edinburgh Fringe, the North American models distinguish themselves by providing more services and education to artists, companies and the community at large. In Boulder, we organize venues, tech staff, box office and ticketing, as well as a printed program and offering of free workshops on self-producing to all of the festival artists. We find that this helps us create more collaboration amongst the artists and the community and raises the level of awareness of self producing in the region.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Edinburgh Fringe with celebrations across the globe on July 11, 2017 - congratulations!