On the fringe of cancellation

By Jocelyn Grosse

Theatre enthusiasts may have to wait another year before Calgary produces its first fringe theatre festival. Festival organizers are currently short almost half the money they need to proceed. Although things have looked up since the organizers sent out a press release last week outlining their Þnancial difficulty, nothing will be conÞrmed until this Thursday night.

"Right now we don’t have enough money to properly produce [ a festival]," said Co-producer Dennis Cahill. "For the first year as a festival, there are practically no grants available."

According to Cahill, the only grant the fringe festival was able to receive was from the Calgary Regional Arts Foundation. However, the organization can only receive the money after the festival.

"We’ve received a great deal of support for donations in kind," said festival Co-producer and former Student’s Union Vice-president Events Miki Stricker. "What we really need now is cold hard cash."

"Nothing is conÞrmed as of yet," said current SU VP Events Jared Lorenz. "We have a couple of large donors in place that still have to conÞrm with their management whether or not they’re going to be able to pull through with the cash, but things are looking good."

According to Lorenz, the money is needed for theatre rentals and technical staff, including lighting and sound technicians.

"The university theatres did not give us sponsorship… we tried," Lorenz said. "They did say they would be willing to entertain the option for next year."

Both Cahill and Stricker said that if the festival does not have the money by this Thursday, the volunteer- run festival will be held over until next year.

"That’s the absolute minimum amount needed to go forward with it," Lorenz said. "Twenty thousand dollars is the minimum number, so we’re still searching for sponsorship beyond that. To do it on that last $20,000 is still going to be þying by the seat of our pants."

"We have to be responsible about this," Stricker added. "We are
reliable to our members and our performers."

The deadline has been set so performing groups have sufficient time to cancel their þights.

Although Stricker has put her efforts towards organizing the festival, she said it was up to the SU to determine how they will be involved in the future.

"I would absolutely support it as a VP," said Lorenz. "Of course it would have to go to council again for the SU’s support, but I don’t see any major problems with the SU being involved next year, or even in the SU expanding to involve a full sponsorship rather than our current status as a supporter."

The event is being touted as Calgary’s Þrst fringe festival, but there have been a few previous attempts to get this sort of festival off the ground.

"It’s been tried," Stricker said. "It never went through the proper channels. None of the previous attempts had ‘cast approval.’"

Calgary is one of the few major cities in Canada that has not held a fringe festival. With neighbouring Edmonton’s grand event, Calgary has a lot of room for growth.

"I don’t know if Calgary was necessarily ready for fringe before," Stricker explained. "Calgarians are beginning to appreciate the art of theatre."

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