The Mission of the Orlando Fringe is to provide an accessible, affordable outlet that draws diverse elements of the community together and inspires creative experiences through the arts.
Not to be confused with frilly decorative borders or extremist political parties, Fringe is a festival or, rather, a celebration of the theatrical and performing arts. The Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival takes place in and around Loch Haven Park over the course of the thirteen days leading up to Memorial Day. Frequently referred to as “the premier springtime cultural event in Central Florida”, The Orlando Fringe Festival encompasses roughly 500 uncensored and non-juried performances each year, a lively outdoor stage and infamous BEER TENT, Visual Fringe and Kids Fringe!
The history of Fringe Festivals began in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1947. There, a number of performing artists who were not official participants of the Edinburgh International Festival (whose participants are invited by its General Director) decided to produce their own work in empty stores and church basements. Thus, their work was staged literally “on the fringe” of the established festival. The concept was an immediate success and the Fringe soon became as – if not more – popular as the “official” Edinburgh Festival.
Following the example of the Edinburgh Fringe, other Fringe Festivals sprang up in Europe, North America, Australia and Asia in the following decades, many of which follow the true Fringe philosophy – to provide artists with the opportunity to show their work in an uncensored and unjuried environment and to give 100% of ticket sales back to them – to this day. Today, there are more Fringe Festivals in North America than on any other continent.
The Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival was created in 1992 by Terry Olson (now Director of the Orange County Divison of Arts and Cultural Affairs), Rick Kunst and Andy Anthony. At first, the festival was held in downtown Orlando, with most venues being created in empty storefronts specifically for the festival. This continued until 2004, when the festival was split between downtown Orlando and Loch Haven Park (where Orlando’s two biggest theatre complexes, The Orlando REP and The Orlando Shakespeare Theater, are located). The move to Loch Haven proved a success and so, from 2005 on, the festival has been entirely in Loch Haven Park, utilizing both The Orlando Shakespeare Theater and The Orlando REP as venues.
The Orlando Fringe is now the longest running US Fringe and is part of the CAFF (Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals) circuit, which allows Fringe artists to tour many different Fringe Festivals throughout North America and which requires all of its festivals to follow the original Fringe philosophy (100% unjuried, 100% uncensored, 100% accessible for artists and audiences alike, 100% of ticket sales given back to the artists).