The next newest thing: Fringe Festival Atlanta.
It will be a five-day event encompassing performing and visual arts of all description. Scheduled for August 22-28, 2011, it will be headquartered in Little 5 Points, which is, of course, fringe central. But the event will be citywide. The sponsors — the Little 5 Points Business Association, 7 Stages Theatre, Dad’s Garage Theatre Company and Twinhead Theatre — explain it this way:
“Back in 1947 in Edinburgh, Scotland, the biggest theater arts festival had a little brother named Fringe. The Fringe Festival allowed indie, underground, original theater companies and artists — amateurs and professionals alike — to showcase their work. If Atlanta knows about anything, it’s indie, underground, original theater, and now we can put our money where our mouth is.
“Historically, Fringe festivals are all about being performance arts-centric, original, rapid-fire, uncensored, and easy to participate in. Participants apply to the festival and then are picked as a random draw or even first come-first serve. Most festivals try to get a good mix of local, national and international talent, and this Fringe will be no different. Entry fees and ticket prices are kept low so everyone has an easy time participating in the Fringe.”
Perhaps it’s a particularly Atlantan twist that this free-spirited Fringe is being established not as ancillary to but in the absence of a large, established festival, which the city can’t seem to organize or support. (The National Black Arts Festival, both citywide and exclusive, is the exception.) Charleston’s thriving and uneven Piccolo Spoleto works its underground magic, for example, because the big-budget Spoleto Festival USA does the hard work of curating a major festival brand and, not least, luring arts tourists to the city. But maybe that’s an outdated mind-set: in our do-it-yourself culture, when it comes to local arts, Atlanta’s fringe is the rug.
A great party can be its own reward, but the question will soon turn to quality: will this new festival deliver the artistic goods? We’ll be following its progress eagerly. The Fringe Atlanta submissions process opens November 1. Check the website for information.