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