Thursday, December 22, 2011

word's on the street.

We have been getting lots of inquiries about applying to Fringe.  We're thinkin we're gonna fill up.  Fast.

Here's some words of wisdom for all our darling artists:

  St. Lou Fringe serves your art of choice.

Theatrical performers (actors, playwrites, directors, technicians), singers and musicians, Dancers, performance artists (movement, spoken word, slam), Vaudeville (circus, burlesque, mime, clowning), fashion and design, young audience performers, buskers/street performers...

Yeah. We want you.

 St. Lou Fringe proudly supports self-producing artists' growth and potential for success.  100% of ticket sales is returned to artists (60% to the performing artist 40% to supporting artists, such as designers).  Festival producers do not receive any royalties from future performances.

 St. Lou Fringe provides unbiased support to all self-producing artists.  In order to do so, STLF does not make any determinations based on content.  Selections are entirely uncensored and unjuried.  Productions are selected on a first-come, first-served basis.  Applications must be filled out correctly and completely to be considered.

 Performance submissions must follow these guidelines:
  • Performances no longer than 50 minutes
  • Tech that can be reasonably accommodated
  • Production fees, if any, (royalties, AEA performance contracts, etc) are the personal cost of the producing artist
  • Applications accepted no earlier than January 15 at 12:00am and no later than March 15, 2012

 How it works:
  1. You apply. You don't even have to know for sure what your show is...just that you're going to commit to doing one. The first 30 applications are accepted (20 from local artists, 10 from out-of-towners).
  2. You decide how many shows:
    • 2 shows for $85
    • 3 shows for $115
    • 4 shows for $150
    • Production cost due within five days of your official notice of acceptance into the festival.
  1. You do your thang, and walk away with 60% of ticket sales at the door.

What does your production fee get you?
  • Festival branding and marketing/publicity
  • Performance space, including tech, for 2-4 performances over a four day period
  • Professional staff, house managers, and technicians
  • Additional benefits for participating productions (discounted access to other productions, invites to private parties and events, etc)
  • 60% of door ticket sales

Performance space is assigned based on technical needs, and lottery if necessary.

Special needs and accommodations will be considered, are addressed professionally, and may be discussed with Festival staff at any time. 

Frequently Asked Questions
What if I'm not one of the first 30?
We have a wait list that artists are placed on in order in which application is received. If another production pulls out, violates STLF policy/regulations, or is otherwise ineligible to perform, then the first artist on the wait list will be notified.

Also, entries that are not one of the first 30 are eligible for Fringe d' Fringe performances! If it will work for your production, we're happy to help coordinate for you to do a single performance at a side venue within the greater Midtown area. We also will have busking on the festival grounds – if you can do your piece on the street, feel free to take it there.

I can't pay the production cost up front.
For a very limited number of productions, we can arrange payment plans. Remember, though, that production costs are what's used to ensure that your venue is well equipped, that marketing is solid, and that everything is set in place for you so that you can do your show worry-free.

How many people will see my show?
STLF will market the festival and get people on the grounds. It's up to you to market your production! Feel free to make fliers and posters, send out invites, and talk yourself up. We'll provide you with a STLF logo and a spot on our website.

Wait, it's a five day festival...why are there only four performance dates?
The fifth day of the festival is our HANGOVER DAY. After a whirlwind of art and madness, we will cap it off with...more art and madness. Abridged fan favorite productions, parodies, and festivities galore will bring us to a close for the season, and launch us towards a Year of Fringe in StL.

More questions? Bug us all you like: or 314-643-7853(STLF).

Thursday, December 15, 2011

it. goes. LIVE.


The streets of St. Louis will transform into a stage for the ST. LOU FRINGE Festival for the first time this summer. Slated for the last weekend of June 2012, the first annual St Lou Fringe Festival will take to the streets on the fringes of Grand Center, and in the Locust Business District.

The festival will be a five-day immersion in cutting edge performing arts, connecting brave artists with bold audiences. Organizers expect to welcome over one hundred performances by thirty local and national companies. "We are excited to see passionate artists converge to create an explosive pressure cooker of artistic expression," says festival Executive Director Em Piro.

Characterized by their original, accessible, uncensored and rapid-fire nature, and because of the enormous success of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland, Fringe Festivals having been popping up around the globe. With the founding of ST. LOU FRINGE, St. Louis will join the ranks of metropolitan cultural hotspots like New York, LA, New Orleans, Orlando, Chicago, Minneapolis, and Kansas City. St Lou Fringe is a member of the United States Association of Fringe Festivals.

Piro sees the need for fringe productions in ­St. Louis. “The response to the festival has been inspiring, even this early,” she says. “We've been approached by artists, patrons, and arts organizations eager to get involved – even people overhearing us at our planning meetings. It just assures me that St. Louis is ready and ripe for a major, collaborative arts event like this.”

Fringes are traditionally considered theater festivals, but often also include dance, music, comedy, slam/spoken word, performance art, fashion, vaudeville, burlesque, or circus arts. Patrons can pop into half-a-dozen shows on any given night to experience something new while street performers roam the festival grounds. “We want a true festival atmosphere,” says Piro. Crowds are entertained with fire dancing, aerial arts, music, poetry, guerrilla theater, urban break-dancing, capoeira, juggling, street improv, or anything else that will dazzle spectators.

Grand Center and the Locust Business District are partnering for the first time to host the Fringe Festival. “We wanted to work with both Grand Center and the Locust Business District because of the opportunity for creative and economic growth, and so that we could literally be on the fringes of the ‘Intersection of Art and Life,’” says Piro. The event boasts an unusual variety of performance spaces. Four central venues will anchor the festival grounds while restaurants, bars, shops, small businesses and street corners also become stages.

Piro has teamed up with some of the city’s most influential arts enthusiasts to create Fringe on St. Louis soil. She is the co-founder of the theatre collective Glass Monsters, a St. Patrick Center counselor and the 2008 recipient of the Grand Center Visionary Award for Outstanding Young Artist. Planning Committee members include Steve Isom (founder of the Kevin Kline Awards), Joe Hanrahan (Marketing Director of The Black Rep), Billy Croghan (founder of the St. Louis Songwriter’s Association), Tara Daniels (STLTV), Dianna Thomas (The Chapel: Sanctuary for the Arts, Glass Monsters), Robert Strasser (The Tin Ceiling Theatre), Luke Lindbergh (Flux Art/Theatre), Phillip Allen Coan (independent director), Andrew Miller (independent artist), and Carolyn Schopp (St. Patrick Center).  Committee advisors include Katie Kappel (Locust Business District), Travis Howser (Grand Center, Inc), Rachel Tibbetts (Prison Performing Arts, Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble), Ed Reggie (St. Louis (improv) Festival), Todd Schaeffer (The WAPP), Kyle Cunningham (Code Incarnate Technologies), Chi-Wen Lee (independent artist), John Corbett (St. Louis Busking Festival) Christy Timberlake (independent designer), and Amy Ziegler (legal counsel). Organizations partnered with the festival to date include Grand Center, Inc, Locust Business District, Circus Flora and Fractured Atlas.

Local and national performers are encouraged to apply early for a space at the festival. Whether you are a seasoned pro or an untapped talent, now is the time to unveil the show you’ve been dreaming about. Like other USAFF and CAFF festivals, ST. LOU FRINGE is 100% unjuried, 100% uncensored, 100% accessible. Open submissions begin at midnight on January 15. Applications and guidelines can be found on the website.

STLF needs the support of arts patrons and local businesses to make the festival a success. St. Louis businesses and organizations are asked how they could partner effectively and creatively with STLF to nurture our creative economy together. Potential donors and sponsors are encouraged to contact Em Piro at 314-643-7853(STLF). St Lou Fringe is a registered non-profit with the State
of Missouri.

For more information, please visit

# # #

For press inquiries, contact
Em Piro
St. Lou Fringe Executive Director

Friday, December 9, 2011

A Healthy Needy Greed

St Lou Fringe is officially open to receive donations.  We can accept checks to "St Lou Fringe," and tax write offs are available.

Help us make this Fringe biz happen in our lovely, dusty, lively, fanatic home!  Every cent will go straight to working artists, to building the creative economy, to enriching the scene for brave artists and bold audiences. 

Because with strong financial support, we won't have to run around all the time looking like this:

Contact Fringe at 314/643-STLF with inquiries.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Look, Papa Gepetto! We're a REAL org!

I never thought I'd be so excited to get mail from the IRS. 

Even though we were approved a month ago for all the basic paperwork to establish St. Lou Fringe as a formal non-profit organization in the State of Missouri, the actual receipt of a letter from Robin Carnahan with the Great Seal (complete with duelling bears) and a sparse letter typed in courrier from the IRS still give the giddies.

We are confident in our work, thrilled at the support we've been receiving from all sides.  Seeing an actual paper trail forming, tangible documentation of our ideas and work going into action, are liberating.

And so, as we sup over cheese, obscure meats and microbrews, we grow closer to formal partnerships and final details.

And once those are hashed...yep, that's when the fun really begins.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Holiday Schmoliday. The work continues!

Activity is strong, but not that exciting.  Paperwork; networks; bureaucracy; other such delights invigorate the process. 

Artists should be percolating.  Audiences should be titillating.  Events are being planned.  Websites are being developed.  Copy is being written.  Meetings are occurring.

And stuffing is being digested.

Monday, November 7, 2011

First Big Pitch

This pitching arm must be ready for the Cards, because our first major pitch with a potential partner would have made David Freese proud.  Ideally our pending partnership will soon be good news full of venues, dates, and a cornucopia of collaboration.

In the meantime, enjoy this delightful summary of what is soon to come to our sweet town:

"The StL Fringe Festival is a 5-day long immersion in cutting edge performing arts, connecting brave artists with bold audiences. Imagine popping into several shows of your choice in downtown St. Louis, ranging from traditional to experimental theater, from Shakespeare to musical theater, but also including dance, movement, improv, music, voice, slam/spoken word, performance art, fashion, vaudeville, burlesque, mime, clowning, circus arts, - all concentrated within several city blocks. Passionate artists from around St. Louis and the country will converge to create a fully immersive and explosive pressure cooker of artistic expression. On any given night, there are half-a-dozen shows on rotating schedules with street performers (or “buskers”) roaming the festival grounds, entertaining crowds with fire dancing, aerial arts, music, poetry, guerrilla theater, urban break-dancing, capoeira juggling, comedy, street improv,or anything else one’s heart desires. Patrons can vote for their favorite shows but will never be able to see everything the festival offers. A minimal admission fee at Festival Headquarters will give a patron a Button Pass and a Schedule/Map to see as many as a hundred different performances by varied artists within a 3-4 block radius over the course of a long weekend. StL Fringe Festival will blossom Locust into a creative hotspot destination within the city, and will open the eyes of St. Louisans to a wealth of undiscovered local talent, new work from national companies, new art forms, and the limitless world of creative possibility."

Proposed dates for the Festival are for late June or mid October 2012, pending collaboration and partnership with existing regional events and institutions.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Fringe Storm Oct 2011

First Fringe Storm - an open fire, pabst, marshmellows, convo.  Great insights, great support.

Steve, having previosly coordinated a now highly respected event, has wonderful insights aso to foot work. Who will back you?  he asks. 

Joe, a previous Fringer himself, is curious about the acts.  Who will you draw, and who will help you? he wonders.

Robert, now working with a major arts organization, seems healthfully skeptical.  What is the festival, truly and succinctly? he speculates.

Good questions, and deeply considered moving forward.

Robert also points out another simultaneous Fringe effort STL!  Luckily, as I have worked with one of its lead coordinators previously, I am excited about the potential for complimentary efforts.

Many hoped to attend and were missed.  Hopefully, they will be able to come to future Fringe Storms, and we can delve all the more deeply into details.

Upcoming: meeting with potential site, and date determinations.

Until then, onward and upward with the questions, speculations, and fervor.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Too Legit to Quit: The Recognition of USAFF

One week ago today, I was eagerly absorbing the world of fringe, mind melding with  cultural leaders of the country like the avatar cat people do that freaky hair-meld with their beast pets.  I found myself in Minnesota, surrounded by all shades of fall, 80 degree weather, and ideas ideas ideas.

That's right...member festival, first year re-running!

I came to the conference through my own inquiries to USAFF, and at the recommendation of the ED of Chicago's Fringe Fest (enjoying a successful sophomore season this year).  I came with questions, and left with more.

I came with questions for the group - seeking the sagacity of these well-seasoned pros.  I left with questions of logistics for our own Fest, confident that YES! this is what StL has been asking for in its own special way and YES! we can listen to and meet its need.

Armed with pages of notes and a brain murkey-crisp with an ocean of ideas, I returned to Fair Lou and now leap forward with planning.  The past week was spent recruiting a crew of artists and administrators, drafting outlines, analyzing the notes.  This weekend, our founders will meet and hash out details so that, sooner than later, we can be added to the USAFF website and national network of Fringe Fests.

The recognition of USAFF is a great step.  Our mentorship continues with a whole sorority of sister cities - each unique, each still growing, each so tuned with their own city's needs.  We also share a network of support and collaboration.  We can share artists.  We can coordinate dates to help with touring acts.  We have a whole wealth of resources.  And soon, I am so confident, we will be able to bring as much to the national scene (both the fresh-faced and and established) as we now draw.

The Festival Legacy

Here we are, delving again into the World of Fringe.  St. Lou holds no strong reputation as a Festival Town, but there is a deep spirit that appreciates and celebrates community and culture, and we see established festivals and fairs grow year by year, consistently accompanied by emerging efforts.

Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis seems to be on an ever growing incline, and their Shake38 has proven an outlet for the passionate Shakegeeks to stretch themselves creatively over the past two years. Companies like HotCity and First Run commit themselves annually to new works festivals, and other regulars on the theater zip have provided opportunities as well.  And Grand Center has been living up to its reputation as the Intersection of Art and Life, when it transforms itself every First Night and literally has people Dancing in the Street.

There's old favorite like TG's Festival of Nations; FP's African Arts, Earth Day and Great Balloon Race; Rib America and Fair St. Louis downtown; Clayton's Art Fair; MoBot's Japanese Fest, LouFest...

And new kids on the blocks of the Grove and Midtown Alley. 

So where will Fringe fit?

This summer, I meandered through live music fests and stumbled upon live acts without even meaning to.  I wandered from corners of live drum corps to intersections with fire spinners.  In the early 2000's, a comedy and improv-centric Fringe Fest charmed for a while - but from what I understand, it wasn't the right time for that fest.  I think the living, thumping, fiery street corners are requesting a brave return.

As far as I know, this will be the first 100% unjuried, 100% uncensored, 100% accessible performing arts festival in the Lou. 

Are we ready?  Yes.

Are we set?  Gettin' there, closer by the day.

Let's go!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


So...What's The Fringe, you say?

The United States Association of Fringe Festivals does a darn good job explaining just that.  I'm not going to reinvent the schpeal.

"Very generally speaking, Fringes are...
  • Focused on the performing arts: Theater, dance, puppetry, spoken word and the like make up the Fringe core, but festivals often may include film and visual arts elements. Fringes don't have a focus on a single discipline or genre, but are a performing-arts smörgåsbord
  • Uncensored: No one gets too fussy about swears or nudity but squeaky-clean content isn't marginal or discouraged, either
  • Easy to participate in: Ticket prices are low for audiences and production fees are low for artists. Show selection varies from festival to festival but is generally quite open to participation by the gamut of amateurs to professionals
  • Festivals: They last from just a few days to a few weeks and involve boatloads of people at multiple venues
  • Original: Fringes feature a huge array of original material—sometimes by design, but usually because that’s what Fringes naturally do well
  • Rapid-fire: Typically, tech is minimal and time is a factor at our festivals. Shows are often kept brief (Fringes most frequently have shows right around 60 minutes in length) and technical requirements kept simple (minor sets, streamlined cues, nothing elaborate)
It all started in 1947 in Edinburgh, Scotland, as an alternative festival that played concurrently with the Edinburgh International Festival. In 1948, Robert Kemp, a local journalist, gave it the name Fringe: "Round the fringe of official Festival drama, there seems to be more private enterprise than before..."

...In the United States, no one organization or individual owns, controls or regulates the name “Fringe.” ...There are no national rules for how each individual festivals operate; the festivals’ content, finances and structure vary from city to city. Generally, however, all the festivals are committed to an open forum of expression that minimizes the financial risks for both artists and audiences. Fringes strive to keep application fees and ticket prices low so that more people can participate in our festivals."

Breaking out...

It's about the artists. It's about the audience. It's about St. Louis.

It's time for St. Louis to create opportunities for artists and audiences to connect.  They are very much alive, lurking amongst the fringes of the mainstream arts community.  They create surprising works.  They are offer vivacity and vital experiences.  They are mighty!

I say we give them more.