First year Festival Producer, Michael Marinaccio points out that the goal of this year’s Fringe was “To bring in a new audience without losing the old audience”. Now that all the dust has settled and the totals tabulated Marinaccio said. “We achieved it.”
The annual Fringe Festival, which has always been open to all forms of entertainment, has had a reputation for some people as presenting mostly bawdy material. So, this year and emphasis was placed not only on increasing attendance, but also in rebranding the festival. “The biggest thing was really a change in direction in how the Fringe is being perceived by the public,” Marinaccio said.
The rebranding campaign, which included a redesigned website, billboards from sponsor Clear Channel, and an emphasis on free children’s activities at Kids’ Fringe, hoped to counteract that image. The Fringe saw a 40% increase in web usages this year. The new site, which was unveiled in March, received 100,000 visits before the start of the Fringe on May 16 and another 100,000 visits during the 13 days of the Fringe.
As far as tickets sales this year — the Fringe distributed 28,902 tickets, of which 24,878 were to paying customers and 4,024 were complimentary tickets for performers, sponsors, volunteers and others. That’s a jump from 2011, when 20,139 tickets were sold. Advance, online ticket sales outpaced in-person sales by a ratio of 5 to 1.
Since all patrons are required to purchase a button to see any show, button sales are a good indicator of unique visitors, nearly 12,500 were distributed (between purchased ones and those that go to artists, volunteers and sponsors.) That indicates an attendance increase of about 23 percent over 2011.
However, the Kids’ Fringe showed an even bigger gain in attendance for Fringe 21. There were nearly 10,000 visits logged in at its new location at the Mennello Museum of American Art. Last year, the total number of participants was 1,750.
Beer and wine sales, which are an important source of income for the Fringe, were also up 30 percent. Some of the increase is due to near-perfect weather this year and the increased number of acts on the outdoor stage (including many local bands) that brought new patrons. The more inviting outdoor area also caused people to stay around longer, which helped ticket sales.
There were a few problems this year, one being not having enough venues for all the acts. About 40 acts total (including three international acts) were denied a place in the Fringe due to space/schedule limitations. Over the course of the next few months, Producer Michael Marinaccio and GM George Wallace will be looking to expand the number of venues. The goal is to find two new venues, one of which would replace the outdoor Red venue, in the courtyard behind the Lowndes Shakespeare Center.
The other problem that we heard the most, is one that has been around before – parking. Through the generosity of some local businesses, the Fringe added some satellite lots this year, which helped for those allowing enough time to use them. We hope that trend will continue (and expand) next year.
Here’s a few other impressive numbers:
We could not have done it without YOU! Mark your celendars NOW for an even bigger and better Fringe in 2013—May 15-27, 2013.