2016 Minnesota Fringe

So you want to do a Fringe show...

Yay! We're here to help make that possible — whether this is your first time producing a show or if this is what you've been doing for years. If you've never done it before, we've got all sorts of help to offer, and if you know what you're doing, we'll stand back and watch you go. We strongly believe the Fringe is for everyone, and will do anything we can to make sure there aren't barriers to your participation. Get in touch if you need accommodations for a disability, an interpreter for ASL or any other language, or if there's anything else we need to do to make the Fringe work for you.

Please remember that we will only accept one application per primary contact and/or one application per producing company, and duplicate applications for the same project will be rejected with no refund. Before completing the application online please keep in mind that there are 4 venues in the small venue lottery (44 show slots) and 11 venues in the regular venue lottery (121 show slots).

The lottery will be held February 29th, 2016 at 7pm at Republic Minneapolis, and will be live streamed on the Fringe website. Please keep reading for more info about the application process.

Applying to Fringe

It's very simple — just read this info (even if you've done Fringe before, there are always changes!), then fill out the online application. You don't even have to know what show you want to do. However, take note, WE DO NOT ACCEPT LATE APPLICATIONS FOR ANY REASON. By no later than 5 p.m. Central on Friday, February 19, 2016, you'll need to have submitted our online application and paid a nonrefundable $25 application fee.

Interested in producing a show in our site-specific category? Take a look at the guidelines and application process here.

The basics: Time and money

  • Minnesota Fringe 2016 runs Thursday, August 4 through Sunday, August 14. Plan on being available to perform for the entire festival's duration, as well as at least one day during July 31-August 3 for a mandatory 3-hour technical rehearsal.
  • The application fee is $25. This is due when you submit your application and is not refundable.
  • Production fees are $350 for a small (up to 85 seats) venue and $450 for a regular (over 85 seats) venue. Production fees are due either the day after the lottery if you win a slot, or immediately upon entering the festival off the wait list.
  • You'll receive 70% of your box office receipts (less any outstanding debts to Fringe, of course).
  • Can't afford to pay the production fee up front? Minnesota Fringe is able to offer a very limited number of fee deferments - if you're accepted into this program, you'll pay your application fee when you apply and we'll take your production fee out of your box office payment. NOTE: Fee deferment applications must be submitted by the application deadline. Contact Amber Bjork, our Artist Liaison, at amber@fringefestival.org for more information.

What you get

  • Five scheduled performances at the 2016 Minnesota Fringe.
  • Guaranteed 70% of your box office receipts. Receipts will be determined by multiplying your show’s total attendance by an individual ticket value, which is calculated by dividing total day pass sales over the 11 days of the festival by the total number of festival attendees.
  • A professional-grade, well-equipped venue that matches your venue requests as best as we are able.
  • Professional technicians, including one who works as a lighting designer, to set levels and cues and to run the boards for your show.
  • Ticket sales (advance and walk-up), box office staff and front-of-house services.
  • Fringe Producers' Handbook—your comprehensive guide to producing and marketing your show.
  • Use of the Fringe's contract with Actors' Equity, so you can use union actors at an affordable rate, if desired.
  • Access to workshops and one-on-one help sessions with Fringe staff.
  • Drawings and photos of your venue.
  • Customizable page for your show on our website.
  • Listings in official schedules.
  • Distribution of your show's information and publicity image to major press outlets and regional producers/presenters.
  • Up to six artist passes for you and your cast to see other Fringe shows for free.

What you're responsible for

  • You find or create your own script (it can be an existing piece) and arrange for your own actors and director, and any payment arrangements you make are your responsibility. You'll also be responsible for acquiring any necessary rights or permissions.
  • It's up to you to provide any necessary costumes, props, sound cues and set pieces. Leave the lighting design to us.
  • Marketing your own show. We do a good job at getting a lot of people to come to Fringe, but it's up to you to grab the audience's and press's attention once they've arrived.
  • Abiding by the Fringe rules and deadlines.
Please remember that Fringe is a different producing environment than "normal" theater. This isn't just another kind of venue rental — you're part of a bigger picture here, which is part of the fun. The Fringe pace is faster, the timeline is more compressed, and you have less control over venue choice, tech, ticketing and schedule. Requests that might be reasonable in a single-show venue might be a logistical nightmare in Fringe, with so many shows in so many venues. We need you to trust that our guidelines and rules are in place to keep everything running smoothly.

Producers who fail to follow the rules will be removed from the festival, which may result in the forfeiture of production fee, performance slots and box office receipts, and may impact their eligibility to participate in future festivals.

Coming from outside the United States? You'll be responsible for arranging all necessary visas and work permits. Contact Jeff Larson at jeff@fringefestival.org if you have questions on this topic.

Is Fringe right for your production?

We believe there's a place for everyone in Fringe and we welcome participation from anyone who wants to come play. But Fringe isn't the right place for every kind of production.

Out of necessity, Fringe's production framework is rather rigid, and we won't negotiate individual exceptions to the rules, no matter how experienced you are or how convinced you are that you can make it work. We don't want to discourage you from dreaming big, but there are some real limitations you'll have to take into account for your show:
  • All shows must be between 45 and 60 minutes long. This time limit includes any curtain calls or audience discussions. Shorter shows make audiences feel ripped off for their ticket purchase, and longer shows will be cut off by the house lights coming on. Nothing starts late and nothing runs long at Fringe.
  • No elaborate tech. You must be able to load in and set up your show in ten minutes flat, and you get the same ten minutes to strike after your show. Don't count on abundant storage space in your venue - you may need to haul your set and costumes in and out for every performance, so plan accordingly and minimize your gear.
  • Projection equipment (video or still) is provided in only one venue in the regular tier, and you may not bring your own projection equipment into venues in the regular tier. If your show can happen without video, that's ideal — you'll make your technical rehearsal much faster and smoother and you'll eliminate a potential failure point in your show. If having video is imperative, please note that there's a limit to how many projection shows we can accommodate.
  • You may bring in projection equipment to venues in the small tier. Please contact our tech director Liz Neerland, liz@fringefestival.org before applying to make sure your projection plans are possible.
  • No merchandise sales, requests for tips or donations from the audience, or any exchange of funds in the lobby or theaters before, during or after performances, and no distribution of food or alcohol to the audience.

How the lottery works

To keep the playing field level for all applicants, we select our line-up by random lottery. Each applicant is assigned a number, we put the numbers on ping-pong balls, then draw the balls out of a bingo cage in an event that's open to the public. This makes for the perfect Fringe combo of fun and fair.

There are two separate lotteries, each for a pool of production slots based on venue seating capacity. On your application, you'll select ONE lottery to participate in. All remaining ping pong balls will be drawn for spots on our wait list and we'll use the wait list to replace any shows that drop out.
Ultimately, the decision of which lottery to apply in will come down to two factors:
  1. Your show. Think about the scope of your show and consider what size space would suit it best. Intimate one-person shows might drown in a large house whereas a 15-person musical will be tricky to stage in a tiny black-box theater.
  2. Your budget. How much of an initial financial investment do you want to make, and how many patrons do you think you might attract? The average box office payout last year was just over $1,600, but, since it's an average, there's tremendous variation. No one gets rich doing Fringe, but more seats in your house increase the odds that a good show and strong marketing efforts will pay off in ticket sales. Shows in the regular venue tier historically have average payouts 50% higher than those in the small tier.
IMPORTANT: Since we won't know how many applicants each tier will have until all the applications are in, we won't know what the odds are in each tier—so please don't spend any time worrying over probability. Just pick the category that feels right for you.

Small venue tier — audience capacity up to 85 seats
  • $350.00 production fee
  • Best for smaller casts and intimate shows.
  • Due to limited seating, big payouts are unlikely
Regular venue tier — audience capacity over 85 seats
  • $450.00 production fee
  • The majority of Fringe venues fall into this category and they come in a wide range of stage shapes (proscenium, thrust and arena). If you need a mid- to large-size stage area and/or if you're confident in your abilities to draw a large audience, this is the place for you.

Ready to apply? You'll find the form right here. If you've got questions, contact Amber Bjork, amber@fringefestival.org. Good luck!

Apply for the 2016 Minnesota Fringe Festival

Minnesota Fringe
Minnesota Fringe