Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Luminato fringe?

I've seen this idea mentioned in a few places now and I want to nip this idea right in the bud.

Here's the problem I have with the idea of a fringe for Luminato. We already have a very successful fringe festival for theatre, comedy and dance. There's also a successful festival for photography. Many festivals for film. The week after Luminato has a successful music festival (who I think had to move their dates because of Luminato), one of two. So the only form that would benefit would be visual art/video installation, although one could argue that Nuit Blanche takes care of them.

All these festivals existed before Luminato. The artistic community is already very wary of the festival because of the way it came in and got a great deal of funding. To do a fringe would put these other festivals at risk and I can't see how it can be a benefit to anyone.

I've participated in the Adelaide fringe and honestly, it's overwhelming. Edinburgh is even more so. The reason those fringes exist was because there was nothing else there at the time. This is not the case in Toronto. I think we need an international arts festival and I'm glad Luminato exists. But it covers enough ground that we really don't need a fringe as well. And I will fight tooth and nail to stop one from happening.

6 comments:

Aaron said...

I'm not sure who you would fight to stop a Luminato Fringe, MK.

The thing about Fringes is that they just sort of happen. The classic example is Edinburgh.

Here in Canada, we've gotten used to a different system: the Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals (CAFF) serves as a quasi-regulator of Fringe Festivals. CAFF has the terms "Fringe" and "Fringe Festival" trademarked, so that other organizations cannot use them to to market a Fringe-like festival in Canada, without first becoming a member of CAFF and upholding the main principles of the organization. See CAFF's website for more info.

The Fringe of Toronto is a CAFF member, and I can't see CAFF accepting more than one organization from Toronto-proper to produce dueling fringe festivals only 3 weeks apart. Never mind the fact that a June "Luminato Fringe" would conflict with Montreal, Ottawa and London Fringes (all CAFF members). These organizations would be more affected by a "Luminato Fringe" than Toronto as they would be competeing for the same touring companies.

All that being said, if a bunch of indie companies decided to set up camp and produce their work right at the same time as Luminato, then how would you stop them? (Not that this is likely to happen, when you have both the Fringe of Toronto and Summerworks offering space, support and audiences to indie companies during the summer months.)

But... what if Luminato decided to produce an 'indie' series of works at the same time as their festival... well, I don't know if that's such a bad idea.

MK Piatkowski said...

Indie companies were included in this year's festival (I'm thinking the Distillery programming), so why create a fringe? Why not program them in the main festival?

I'd see them creating some kind of side festival as being a complete slap in the face to NXNE, Contact and the Fringe. It would destroy all the goodwill they've been trying to create in the community the last couple of years.

Aaron said...

Ah, right. My bad.

But I still don't understand how it would be a slap in the face to those other companies.

MK Piatkowski said...

Because all these organizations are operating on tiny budgets. Why should Luminato get money to do a festival that would compete for sponsors and audience? It would restart all the community resentment toward the money Luminato gets.

Aaron said...

Okay, so you're not so much against an indie-artist festival operated by Luminato, but rather you're against Luminato receiving even more public/private money to fund it.

I can see that.

I can also see other organizations being protective of their respective 'turfs'. So yes, hurt feelings are probably a risk. However... is Luminato that concerned with mending fences and making friends? I doubt it. I think it would rather be more concerned with doing what it takes to grow audiences, attract artists, and build a better brand/reputation.

I have to admit, I'm not all that outraged at the idea. More opportunities for artists simply means more opportunities for artists. I don't think Luminato needs any more money, but I also don't think it should limit its expansion for fear of stepping on other people's toes.

Now, keep in mind as you read this, that I love indie theatre -- my career was born in Fringe festivals and my wife used to run one. I want Fringe and Summerworks and the like to continue to thrive.

Not that it matters so much: I don't see how it would serve Luminato to start a non-curated festival anyways. (BTW I'm just talking about the theatre side of things because I'm not that in tune with the other arts communities.) I don't see them starting up a fringe-like non-curated festival; I don't see them wanting to give up that kind of artistic control. And even if they did, without the Fringe brand, it would be much harder to find an audience for that kind of work. In any case Luminato doesn't really market to the same crowd as Fringe, or even Summerworks does, so again, I don't see how it would benefit them...

So I wouldn't worry too too much about it.

(Mind you, if next season they do announce a non-curated indie Fringe-esque side festival, then I'll buy you dinner and serve myself a nice big helping of crow to go with. Deal?)

MK Piatkowski said...

Deal. :)

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