The Phoenix Fringe Festival has been an annual event since 2008, and its mission, according to its website, is to “develop a culturally engaged urban audience by offering an edgy assortment of performance choices in non-traditional downtown Phoenix spaces.”
PHX:fringe, the organization that runs the Phoenix Fringe Festival, attempted to collect sponsors through Indiegogo.com but had a less than stellar turnout, raising only about a quarter of its goal.
“We had a nice response, but it wasn’t enough,” said Liz Warren, the organization’s interim chairwoman. “We couldn’t risk falling further into debt.”
The group is working to develop its festival to be much larger and more renowned but is having difficulty taking root in Phoenix.
Festival coordinator Marta Stout said the main goal is to provide an “innovative and edgy alternative to the mainstream,” giving beginning artists stage time.
The festival attracts many small, local groups such as Ignite Collaborative, Orange Theatre and Brelby Theatre Co. But the lack of funding is jeopardizing PHX:fringe’s ability to run the event.
“I wish I could tell you that we’ll have a festival next year,” Warren said.
The fundraiser is the most recent of PHX:fringe’s troubles. Debt followed a disappointing turnout at last year’s signature festival. The organization went through a restructuring process, including a change in leadership, to prevent further loss.
The group has moved next year’s festival from March to October, restructured the judging guidelines and concentrated on defining its mission as an organization.
“We want to provide an infrastructure for artists to perform,” Stout said. “Get the support system in place.”
Stout has been the festival coordinator for about six months as a result of the reorganization. The former chairman, Patrick Demers, resigned, and an election will take place within the next few months.
The festival has received mixed responses.
Ashley Naftule is an actor, writer and ensemble member of the local theater Space 55 who performed at the Phoenix Fringe Festival in 2011.
“Even though it gave me a chance to show my production, I didn’t get a whole lot from it,” he said.
Naftule said there were “communication issues” and that other fellow artists have experienced similar problems. The lack of turnout was also a setback for him because the price of participation did not match up to the publicity he received.
“Moneywise, it’s not worth it,” Naftule said.
PHX:fringe is planning a strategic retreat to deliberate on the future of the organization and how to become “more fiscally and socially responsible” and “put a new consistent face on ourselves,” said Stout.
“Don’t give up on us,” she said. “We’re still here!”
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