Optimistically Cautious

Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Calgary Fringe

I was poking around the internet, looking for things to do while in Calgary this weekend, and I stumbled upon the website for the Calgary Fringe.

Running from the 10th to the 19th (stepping on Edmonton's toes! Yes, I'm a snob), the Calgary version of the festival includes films and art exhibits in addition to the requisite theatre offerings. It seems they too have set up an online ticketing system this year.

Programs have been on sale for as long as I've attended the Edmonton Fringe, so the expense is really a non-starter. And as the funds go towards keeping the festival alive, patrons end up with a souvenir and (hopefully) a sense of contributing to something. Of course, for newbies or those just dabbling in theatre, the same information is available on the website, or at the booths on site, while volunteer gatekeepers collect donations from anyone willing to part with change.

I write about this because the Calgary Fringe has introduced a Fringe button. Priced at $5, this button is required for entrance to all shows in addition to the actual ticket. While it operates on the same fundraising principle as Edmonton's $6 programs, I think the buttons would really deter any green patrons from taking a chance on a show. The cost for two people to attend a performance becomes, at the very least, $30 ($10 per ticket, plus $5 each for buttons), not taking into consideration surcharges. Unless one is planning on attending multiple shows, I wouldn't think it very worthwhile purchase, and I would quite frankly feel ripped off.

The programs are free in Calgary, and really, with a much smaller line up than Edmonton, it may be a more difficult expense to swallow. When it comes down to it, I'm sure the team behind the Calgary Fringe are just doing whatever they deem necessary to keep their festival alive. So as a fan of theatre, I can't be too critical. Perhaps I'll pop down to the site this weekend to check out the atmosphere.

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