Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Closing Time

It’s here…the Festival is over, and now everything’s just wrapping up, as I site here watching So You Think You Can Dance.

I guess I’m going to finish this touching on two aspects of my internship, my internship in and of itself, and my internship with regards to (ultimately) my thesis for the Arts Management Program at AU.

With my internship, with regards to marketing partnerships through the Button Discount, I’ve got to line up several for September. As far as press, I’m putting together the archive of all the press from this year. There are several featured articles and reviews I have hard copies of, but for the most part I’m printing out the articles from online. In addition to that, I’m creating a spreadsheet with the names of the articles, the publications their from, the media they were distributed in, the kind of article they are, and a hyperlink to the web page.

And this actually kinda segues into my working thesis. In talking to our publicist, and tracking the press (tv, print, and online), it’s really interesting to see how members of various communities and demographics respond to the festival and relevant performances in it and how easy it’s becoming to keep track of that as more media make their content available online.

So I’m thinking about what about communities and the arts I can pull into a thesis. I have a feeling that one of the classes I’ll be taking in the fall will help clarify this; it’s called ‘Art, Community and Diversity’:

“Theoretical and practical examination of multicultural art forms and their implications for managers, including the theory and practice of community cultural development.”

We’ll see what happens. In the meantime, check out the Photos from the Closing Night Party on Facebook: Part 1 & Part 2.

That’s it for this blog. Hope you enjoyed joining me with my summer exploits.

Wanna contact me? Email me at That’s the number “0” and not the letter “O”.

Otherwise, see you next year at the 5th Annual Capital Fringe Festival,


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Oh, we’re halfway there

Okay…so we’re more than halfway there. I guess, technically, the halfway point was this past Saturday.

The Capital Fringe is heading into the final week of its fourth year tonight. It’s been great, so far; hasn’t really sunk in that it’s over in about five days. There’s definitely been a lot and overall the consensus is that the Festival continues to get bigger and better.

I say consensus because there are some that don’t share the sentiment. The Button was one issue which certain individuals are still coping with. The Capital Fringe only started it last year, and met some…”resistance” from lack of a better word. Yet despite that, most Fringers see it as a simple way to boost revenue which goes to the Festival and ultimately the artists, without raising the cost of tickets.

Some people understandably say that this can suck for the one-time Fringer who’s only going to see their friend’s show, or because they’re only in town long enough to catch a single performance, but ultimately realize that there really isn’t any similar mechanism which would yield the same results.

Another issue has been the space, especially in terms of access. And, while this is certainly an issue that wouldn’t be a problem in an ideal world, organizations are ultimately made up of individuals which have to play the proverbial “hand” their dealt with. Hindsight’s 20/20, chalk it up to experience, etc.

What those people haven’t taken into account is that one of the major reasons the venues used this year were chosen were partially financial and mostly in response to last year’s main feed back in that performances spaces were too spread out.

This year all Fringe Venues are within a 2 block radius of 7th & New York Ave.

Which brings us to the vitality of the performing arts in DC. I’d like to start off by pointing out the fact that the DC Metropolitan area is now the 2nd largest theatre scene in the country, after New York City and right before Chicago.

I bring this up because, often, the uninitiated ask me when I’m going to move to NYC, when the find out I’m in the performing arts. The assumption underlying this question is one to be dealt with as for me, the implication that there is nothing worthwhile to stay for in DC is a scary one that I immediately try to shed light on.

Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t mind spending sometime in “The City”, but I’m way too busy here. And it’s always going to be home for me. Plus, you’ve got an arts scene that lives hand in hand with the politics and policy of the nation. If that’s not the place to be, I don’t know what is. But I guess that might be something unique to a minority of working artists, wanting to be aware of and involved in Arts Policy, especially with regards to education and funding. Or maybe it’s a generational thing, and as newer generations flex their political muscles, so will their artists take more advantage of using their voice not just on stage, but at a grass roots, grass tops, and a lobbying level.

And so this is why the Capital Fringe Festival is a part of that pulse, that dialogue. For artists to present work, unjuried, and take chances, to affect an audience, to give a chance for reflection or incite a reaction…I just can’t think of a better city to do that in.

Until next week,


Next Week: Closing time

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Crazy Times!!

Wow…like I don’t even know where to begin. The past week has just been a…a…I’m trying to think of a word, but even to call it a whirlwind of activity would be putting it mildly.

I guess I might as well start with the opening night party. That was a blast, there were DJ’s and live bands, the cast from one of the two shows about women sword fighting in their birthday suits started doing a line-dance to the music playing, and that was just the beginning of the shindig, even before the sun went down.

I got to catch up with a number of friends which were involved in productions, and meet artists I’d been in communication with regarding images for the guide, web, and PR. Although the marketing portion of my internship has died down a bit, the press has kicked into full gear.

I had mentioned Google Alerts in a previous entry, but it is both a blessing and a curse. There is still a good amount of review I have to do through the articles that are sent to me because, especially with regards to economic stories, there are a large number of articles with the words “capital” and “fringe” which have NOTHING to do with the festival.

As the press intern, I’ve also tried to make sure I see as much as possible without shirking any duties. Part of this has to do with just wanting to have experienced the shows and know what the reviews are talking about, whether I agree or disagree with the critic’s response.

The other part has to do, again, with moving forward with whatever relationship I might’ve developed with the artists (both as an individual and as a representative of Capital Fringe) simply via being the point of contact for their web and guide images. I know everyone on staff has been in contact with them to some degree, but as Fringe is certainly about community, every time a producing artist is able to put a face to a name can’t do anything but help reinforce that community, on both ends, right?

To that end, I still can’t believe I managed to see 8 shows between Friday and Sunday. I won’t tell you what I saw, nor what I’d recommend or not as that is not the purpose of this blog. And yet, as I enjoy the space between weekends, I’m sure last week was only a warm-up for the upcoming ones.

Speaking of the space between, although there aren’t any shows which go on Monday & Tuesday (outside of the Find Your Own Venues), there are a series of workshops and roundtables which make up the Capital Fringe Training Factory.

Topics and skills range from learning how to beat box to discussing solo performance.

I think that’s about it for now…I feel like I’m still catching up from the weekend.

By the way, you’re more than welcome to check out more pics from the opening night party.

Until next week,


Next Week: The second week and what the Capital Fringe Festival means to me as a native Washingtonian…lemme guess: you’ve never met one? :-)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Another Op’nin, Another [120 Something] Show[s]

The Box Office opened today!!

So we’re less than 48 hours from the opening party, and all hands are on deck tomorrow. This is the part that can get very exciting but also very frustrating for people. It’s like tech-week, but on a much bigger scale.

I actually have this great t-shirt, which I can’t find right now, and I really, REALLY wanted to wear tomorrow.

oh well…

But it’s the time when everything you might’ve expected to be responsible for has less to do with what needs to be done. Although my official title is Marketing/Press Intern, that didn’t keep me from coming in on that afternoon on the Fourth of July to hang some drops, move lumber, or drill holes in a steel base.

Tomorrow there’ll probably be much more of that. Part of it’s just the nature of the festival; part of it’s unique to the new spaces that are apart of this year’s venues. All of it requires clear and effective communication, because anything else is a waste of time and energy. It also necessitates the ability not to take things personally. Someone might be short just because they’re tired and in a rush, not because they don’t care. Another might respond forcefully when you try to talk to them, but that probably has more to do with the conversation they’re having on the phone than with you.

It’s not a time to get defensive; it’s not a time to vent. Like with any work on stage, it’s just one of those times when, more than ever, you need to leave your baggage at the proverbial “door”. Now I know it probably sounds like I’m preaching to the choir, for all you other theatre folk out there. This is more for those who haven’t been a part of that world. It’s just not the kind of time, as the festival gets ready to open, where “regular working hours” has any meaning.

Which is why tomorrow, I don’t even know how late I’m going to be there, but it’ll be something like a 10 out of 12…maybe more like an 11.5 out of 12, or maybe a 15 out of 12. Whatever it takes until I’ve done whatever I can, which will not be marketing or press related And, again more for those who don’t know, in most of the tech weeks for productions I’ve worked on and/or been in, the weekend before opening night which kicks-off tech week is usually comprised of two 10 out of 12 days; that means on Sat & Sun, 10 out of 12 hours are spent working, with performers usually given an hour for lunch and an hour for dinner…or sometimes no lunch and two hours for dinner.

I’ve gotta say, though…I like doing tech work. My freshman year, I actually never wanted to step foot on stage. Until our spring musical, my involvement in our theatre productions was comprised of hanging lights, building sets, and operating boards. It’s something that I think more performers could, and should, endeavor to do more often than usual. Which is another great thing about Fringe Festivals, and Capital Fringe in particular. In training artists and companies to be self-producing, it forces people to take themselves out of whatever “box” they might’ve put themselves in, and refocuses them on simply doing what needs to be done to get the show on its feet. Hopefully, by the end of it, everyone’s learned something new in addition to growing in their primary craft(s), whether it be on stage or off.

Anyway, I digress…

I suppose I should talk about the Meetup thang. So far, no measureable outcomes, i.e. no one came up to me at the Press/Preview night and said hi. But that doesn’t mean they weren’t there. Oh well, we’ll see what happens with the opening night party.

Until next week,


Next Week: The Opening Night Party, the first weekend, and the Training Factory

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Press Conference 2.0

What’s “2.0” supposed to mean anyway? Well, according to Urban Dictionary, it means:

“Marketing catchphrase/buzzword than, when attached to a name, implies an "improved" or "superior" product than it's predecessor.”

There’s actually a great book called PR 2.0, by Deirdre Breakenridge, I’d recommend checking out. I’ll actually be coming to the concept of PR 2.0 after talking about the Press Conference.

First off, it’s tomorrow…tomorrow evening to be precise. This came about after our ED considered our Publicist’s recommendation at having one in the morning, but the decided to do it the evening.

It’s not a matter of being different, per se, or raging against the “machine” because that’s Fringey, but it just made more sense, not only in planning, but in having the press and preview run in one smooth evening.

And I’ll be assisting with MC’ing with the event. Not that it’s a surprise, but there’s definitely plenty to due at Capital Fringe. And as some duties wind up, others are just getting started. Which is great, because it’s keeping this ADHD intern too busy to worry about how busy he is.

So with the press conference being tomorrow, most of today was spent getting the Press Kits ready, which include some Capital Fringe facts, Bios of key personal, a Press Pas, instructions on how to use the Press Pass, two drink tickets, and everyone member of the Press will be receiving a Flash Drive with all the PR images we’ve received, along with the Capital Fringe Festival logo.

You probably surmised correctly if you thought I had to take care of the flash drives. However after getting the materials ready, my fellow intern, Emily, took care of stuffing the folders. After which I re-learned rule #1 of managing other people: be explicit in telling other people what you expect. Although she did what I told her, I ended up going through each folder to make them consistent and spread the info out between both pockets, as opposed to putting them all in one.

So we’ve got the Press Kits ready to go, the Preview line-up all set, and we’ve also got our first Meetup. Now if you’re not familiar with this…think of it like Facebook, but it mandates face-to-face interaction in place of cyber wall comments and the like. This is from the site’s About page:

“Meetup's mission is to revitalize local community and help people around the world self-organize. Meetup believes that people can change their personal world, or the whole world, by organizing themselves into groups that are powerful enough to make a difference.”

Pretty neat. There’s a three month option, which we started back in April and it’s been an experiment to see how various Web 2.0 sites can help bring people to the festival. We’ve definitely got Facebook and MySpace covered, but Meetup is uncharted territory so far.

So it should be interesting who will come out through the Meetup event page.

Anyway, that’s about if for now. It’s going to be a long day

Until next week,


Next Week: Getting Ready for the Opening and how the Meetup went

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

It'll Cure What Ails You

So tickets went on sale yesterday!!

That means the new website went live. Last year, all the shows and ticket purchasing systems were hosted at third party sites. While the tickets are still being sold through OvationTix the show information is all in house.

This means there’s been a good deal of proofing, troubleshooting, and fixing. There have been typos to fix with the names of people’s show, and issues with the way people can view and sort productions by date and time.

I’m not going to bug you with the details, but it’s been quite interesting being on the other end of getting all the bugs out, and intentionally trying to…well, “break” the website, so to speak, and test the functionality of the search function.

Now one thing I want (and need) to play catch up with is the other side of my intern coin: the press bit.

So far my job has been simple, following press releases. While we’ve gotten hard copies of articles and whatnot when we come across them, the majority of the archiving has been of online pages, from articles to blogs.

And a big help with this has been Google Alerts. In case you aren’t familiar with them, you should be, even if just to set up an alert for yourself.

It really facilitates keeping track of things. But because of various printer issues I’ve been having at Fort Fringe, I haven’t printed out some of the more recent items into our Master Folder. And considering our Press Conference/Preview is next Wednesday, and the press coverage has been fairly minimal so far, I probably want to make sure I’m caught up before the torrent of Google Alerts begin to inundate my inbox.

Oh, and this is my last week of my summer class, already. I know, right?!

Until next week,


Next Week: Press Conference, Preview, and Meetup

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Yes We Can

So this entry is going to be a little less structured…not that the other three have been.

The topic I had in mind was the sense of Community that is at the heart of what the Capital
Fringe Festival does every summer, and continues to stoke throughout the year.

But before I get started with that, lemme just say that the Festival Guide has finally gone to print!! No more proofing, editing, etc. It was certainly an invaluable experience, ‘specially learning how to use InDesign BUT I’m glad I can refocus on the Buttons.

So, Today, along with my trusty sidekick, Emily, I wandered the streets of 14th & U in search of Button Discounts.

Here’s a picture of us:

I’m the guy on the left…in case you were wondering

Now our tasks were two-fold, and we actually started with a preliminary walk yesterday to scout the path ahead.

Our first goal was to touch base with establishments who had given Button Discounts last year and see if they were interested in doing so again. Our secondary objective (which we’ll get to later on this week) is to approach new businesses and convince them of the goodness that comes with participating with the Capital Fringe Festival, through the Button Discounts.

With the places we went to today, most of the managers and owners were ecstatic when we introduced ourselves as envoys of Capital Fringe, and I’m not exaggerating. Expressions of love were common, and all wanted to give Fringers Button Discounts again.

Now I realize that on the surface, this is a clever way to cross market and give incentives to increase revenue. Fine. But I believe, deep down, especially with the types of places that we stopped by today, that the participants genuinely want to be and see themselves as a part of the Capital Fringe Festival community, artists and especially audiences.

I have to tell a little anecdote. I went into a bar last week, and after about 5 minutes realized that it probably wasn’t the kind of bar we’d want to talk to about the discount. I can’t say I had any concrete criteria with which I just basing that on, but it was just a feeling and a lack of synthesis as far as the Capital Fringe vibe, and the bar’s aesthetic, both physically and personally (particularly the staff and bouncers)…

Don’t get me wrong, we definitely want to get as many discounts as possible, primarily in the Penn Quarter neighborhood, and then whatever we can get around 14th St, U St, Adams Morgan, and Dupont Circle, where there are Capital Fringe Find Your Own Venues.

But, in a very hippie kind of way, I believe like energy will attract like energy, and that most of the new places we approach who will ultimately participate, will do so because they do see this Button Discount, not as a marketing deal, but a partnership, a two-way relationship, and something good for both the business and the festival. It’s a way to get Fringers to help support area establishments and, in some way, stimulate the local economy.

It’s already a given that audience members for live arts productions spend money in non-ticket related purchases. And if there’s a way that we can help independent and local restaurants and bars and get as much of that as the nation-wide chains, then that’s the kind of community investment that comes from just building a sense of community.

Not to get to ethereal but especially with this economy and what we know about the connectedness of everything, people (on a local to a global level) need to re-realize our own communities, not just the intentional ones, but also the unintentional ones. It’s not about making new connections, but merely recognizing the ones that are already there.

I could go on and on about how I feel like this is something that is forgotten in the arts sector, unless you’re the marketing director, but that might have to be a topic for a later entry.

Until next week,


Next Week: Tickets go on sale on the 22nd and following press with Google Alerts