About Minnesota Fringe

There is one big thing that makes Fringe different from any other event in town: All the shows you'll see at Fringe were selected randomly by lottery.

Yep. That's right. Each year the lineup is crafted by placing numbered ping-pong balls into a bingo cage and drawing them out, one by one. From stage veterans to people who are brand new to theater, Minnesota Fringe is a forum for anyone with a story to tell. We also provide the necessary support to make producing a show as easy as possible, regardless of where you land on the artistic spectrum.

Anyone (yes, anyone) can apply to have a show in the festival. If you'd like to have a show in our next festival, applications will go live in November here on our website. Sign up for our newsletter to receive a reminder as well as information about other theater events happening around town.

The mission of the Minnesota Fringe is to promote creative freedom and diversity of artistic expression by linking adventurous artists with adventurous audiences. Thank you for joining in this adventure!

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Shows start and end on time at Fringe. With hundreds of performances and dozens of shows in just 11 days, we have to run a tight schedule to avoid descending into chaos. Performances are no more than 60 minutes long with a half hour between each show.

On weekdays shows begin at 5:30pm, 7pm, 8:30pm and 10pm. On weekends there are additional shows at 1pm, 2:30pm and 4pm.

Late seating: There is NO LATE SEATING at Minnesota Fringe. In addition to keeping our schedule, late seating is a safety issue for artists and audiences.

Safety for artists: Some of our theaters require that patrons walk across parts of the stage to reach the seating area, and many of our production companies’ stage work encompasses entrances and exits from the house.

Safety for audiences: Entering a darkened theater, possibly for the first time, and trying to find open seats puts patrons and volunteers at unnecessary risk.

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Fringe Central

Fringe Central, sponsored by Surly Brewing and hosted by a local establishment, serves as the late-night watering hole for artists, staff, volunteers and audience members alike. Come in after a day full of shows to grab a beer and some bar food. Talk about what you loved and what you didn’t. Meet the artists behind the scenes and actors on the stage. Find out what you should see tomorrow or dream up your own idea for next year. You never know what will happen during Fringe, but dropping by Fringe Central gives you a serious head start.

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What to Wear

Shorts and a t-shirt. Seriously. Also, a pair of comfy shoes will serve you well in case you have to wait in line. Most Fringe shows take place indoors in air-conditioned venues, so having a layer to throw on in case you get chilly is also advisable.

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Choosing a Show

With hundreds of performances and dozens of shows, it's scandalous to see just one. But how to choose the perfect lineup?

Search by genre: You can filter for genres when trying to decide what to see.

Talk to people: It only sounds scary. Just look for the folks in lanyards. Lanyards are worn by Fringe artists and there are at least a thousand of them dying to tell you about their show.

Read and write reviews: See what audiences are raving about on our audience review page, then return the favor and let others know what you thought.

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Get Involved

Fringe isn't just a festival - it's a community, and it couldn't exist without people like you.

Create: Applications for the 2018 festival will are live on this website. Fringe is open to everyone, shows are selected by lottery, and you don't even need to have a show ready when you apply.

Volunteer: Our volunteers are near and dear to our hearts and make our festival go, so we shower them with lots of love and complimentary seats! Sign up for a shift now!

Socialize: Join us any night of the festival at our official hangout, Fringe Central sponsored by Surly Brewing and hosted by a local establishment, for a beer, a burger and maybe even some late-night shenanigans.

Support: Help us create Minnesota's Summer Theater Crawl by donating to or sponsoring our annual festival. Gifts of any size make a large contribution to our ability to meet our mission.

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Box Office Info

Pass, Reservations, and Tickets, Oh My!

In 2018, Fringe will still offer passes but is also re-introducing single tickets options to see shows. We are re-tooling our Box Office policies to reflect our changes. Please check back for more information in the spring.

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2018 Minnesota Fringe Festival - Lottery Application

Minnesota Fringe connects adventurous artists with adventurous audiences through our summer performing arts festival. The annual event attracts local and touring applicants to produce dozens of works culminating in hundreds of performances by thousands of artists for roughly 50,000 audience members.

Anyone can apply to be a Fringe artist - no experience or portfolio required. Just a simple application and a small processing fee will ensure your place in the festival lottery. Applications are accepted through 5pm CST on February 16, 2018.

The Fringe lottery will be held on the evening of February 26th, 2018 at Bryant-Lake Bowl. Join us in person or on social media to see which producers will be randomly selected to participate in the 2018 Minnesota Fringe Festival.

Time and money

The 2018 Minnesota Fringe Festival runs Thursday, August 2 through Sunday, August 12. Plan on being available to perform for the entire duration as well as at least one day during July 29-August 1 for a mandatory 3-hour technical rehearsal.

The non-refundable application fee is $30, due at submission. Production fees are due immediately after the lottery if you get a slot, or immediately upon entering from the wait list.

Tier Venue Capacity Fee
1 Up to 99 seats $400
2 100 - 199 seats $450
3 200+ seats $500

Minnesota Fringe offers a limited number of fee deferments which deducts your producer fee from your final payout. Fee deferment applications must be submitted by the application deadline. Contact Artist Liaison, Amber Bjork at amber@fringefestival.org for more information.

What you get
  • Five scheduled performances
  • Guaranteed 70% of your box office receipts. Receipts include 70% of all single-ticket sales to your show plus 70% of the per-seat price for seats filled by pass holder sales. The per-seat pass sale price is calculated by dividing total day pass sales by the total number of seats filled by pass attendees.
  • A professional-grade, well-equipped venue
  • Professional technicians to run the board for your show, including one lighting designer to set cues
  • Ticket sales (advance and walk-up), box office staff and front-of-house services
  • Fringe Producers' Handbook—your comprehensive guide to the festival
  • Use of the Fringe's festival rate contract with Actors' Equity
  • Access to workshops and one-on-one help sessions
  • Drawings and photos of your venue
  • Customizable page for your show on our website
  • Publicity distribution to major press outlets and regional producers/presenters
  • Artist passes for you and your cast to see Fringe shows for free
Your responsibility
  • Finding or creating a script; acquiring any necessary rights or permissions for existing scripts/music
  • Arranging/contracting actors and director
  • Costumes, props, sound cues and set pieces
  • Marketing your show
  • Arranging necessary visas and work permits if coming from outside the United States
  • Abiding by the Fringe rules and deadlines

Please remember that Fringe is a different producing environment than ‘normal’ production. The Fringe pace is faster, the timeline more compressed, and there is less control over venue choice, tech, ticketing and schedule. Requests that might be reasonable in a single-show venue can prove much more challenging at Fringe. Guidelines and rules are in place to keep the big picture running smoothly - which is also what makes it so much fun!

Is Fringe right for your production?

We believe there's a place for everyone in Fringe and we welcome participation from anyone along the entire artistic spectrum. But Fringe may not be right place for every kind of production. We want you to dream big, but know there are some real limitations you'll have to consider take into account to fit within Fringe's framework:

  • Keep it short: All shows must be between 45 and 60 minutes long including any curtain calls or audience discussions.
  • Keep it simple: You must be able to load in and set up your show in ten minutes. Likewise, you get ten minutes to load out after your show is finished. Storage is never guaranteed, so you may need to haul your set and costumes in and out for every performance. Venues are shared by up to 11 companies, so lighting configurations will be general to serve many different shows.
    • Projection equipment (video or still) is available in some venues, but is not a guarantee. If you plan on having projection in your show, you must be prepared to:
      • Bring your own equipment (if not in a venue outfitted for projection)
      • Setup and break down with your allotted time frame
      • Provide personnel to run the projection.
  • Keep it inside: Merchandise sales are permitted inside the theater space - not the lobby - during your allotted show time.
How the lottery works

Fringe shows are chosen by random lottery. Each application is assigned a number, we put the numbers on ping-pong balls, then draw the balls out of a bingo cage as a public event.

The first drawing will determine slots for the touring artist initiative. Once those slots are full, the remainder of the touring artist ping-pong balls will be separated out into their respective tiers and mixed in with the local applicants in the tiered lotteries.

There are three separate tiers based on venue seating capacity (see How to choose your tier below). Each tier has a lottery for a pool of production slots. Once productions are chosen, the remaining ping pong balls in each tier will be drawn for slots on tier-specific wait lists.

If you apply for multiple tiers and your show is randomly chosen in more than one, you will be contacted after the lottery and be asked to select ONE tier (and be removed from other tier lists). All empty slots will be filled by the remaining respective wait list.

How to choose your tier (or tiers)

Ultimately, the decision of which tier or tiers to apply in will come down to two factors:

  1. 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 $1,200, 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 Tiers 2 and 3 historically have average payouts up to 50% higher than those in Tier 1.
  2. Show. Think about the scope of your show and consider what size space would suit it best. Keep in mind that a small house size does not always equal a small stage. There are venues of all shapes and sizes in each tier, but you’re most likely to find a larger stage with a higher tier. Please note: if you have a cast size of 20+ people, you should apply in Tier 3 in order to accommodate fire code capacity for both the audience and your cast.

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 tier or tiers that feel right for you.

Tier Venue Capacity Fee Slots  
1 Up to 99 seats $400 44 Best for smaller casts and intimate shows
Due to limited seating, big payouts are unlikely
Limited functionality for dance
Venues: Augsburg Studio, Ritz Theater Studio, Strike Theater, and U of M Rarig Xperimental
2 100 - 199 seats $450 30 If you need a mid- to large-size stage area, this is the place for you.
Venues: Augsburg Mainstage, Minnsky Theater, and U of M Rarig Arena
3 200+ seats $500 55 If you need a mid- to large-size stage area, have a large cast, and/or confident in your abilities to draw a large audience, this is the place for you. Cast size of 20+ should apply in this tier.
Venues: Mixed Blood Theater, Ritz Theater Mainstage, Southern Theater, Theatre in the Round, and U of M Rarig Thrust
The Application

If you've got questions, contact us at info@fringefestival.org. Good luck!

2018 Fringe Festival Lottery Application

Note: This CANNOT change, so think carefully.

Note: You will be able to change this later.

Use the 2-letter state abbreviation

Note: Coming from outside the United States? You'll be responsible for arranging all necessary visas and work permits. Contact amber@fringefestival.org if you have questions about this.

Applicants to the 2018 Minnesota Fringe Festival Lottery must choose a venue tier based on venue capacity. 

  • Tier 1 (producer fee of $400; venue audience capacity of up to 99)
  • Tier 2 (producer fee of $450; venue audience capacity between 100 and 199)
  • Tier 3 (producer fee of $500; venue audience capacity over 200)

For more information, please check out the Minnesota Fringe Festival Application Guidelines.

Almost Done...

If you ("Company") are selected to participate in the 2018 Minnesota Fringe Festival ("Fringe"), this application will be considered a signed performance agreement between the Company and Fringe. By submitting this application the Company acknowledges and agrees to abide by the rules and regulations contained herein, as well as the rules and regulations of Fringe. The Company may withdraw from the festival with a full refund of producing fees (excluding the $30 application fee) until 5pm on March 23, 2018. Withdrawals are accepted only from the Primary Contact specified in this agreement and only in writing. Should the Company withdraw after the date specified, the Company will forfeit its producer fee. The Company agrees to adhere to the laws of Minnesota, the ordinances of the City in which its performances are presented, and the policies and procedures of the Fringe. The Company accepts all responsibility for adhering to all applicable union, copyright, and immigration regulations, and agrees to acquire any necessary city or state permits. Fringe reserves the right to remove the Company from festival participation if it is in violation of any terms of this agreement, resulting in the cancellation of any and all of the Company's performances at the festival and the Company's forfeiture of all fees and box office payout.

Next up: You will be asked to pay the $30 application fee.

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