Ottawa Fringe Festival

Ottawa Fringe Festival
The Ottawa Fringe Festival, also known as simply Ottawa Fringe, is an annual independent performing arts festival that has been held in Canada’s capital since 1997. It is a member of the Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals (CAFF) and is thus based on four guiding principles endorsed by the Association.

The world’s first fringe festival was the Edinburgh Festival Fringe established in 1947 as an open access alternative to the juried Edinburgh International Festival. Fringe festivals focus on performing arts that are experimental in style or subject matter and don’t select acts based on their artistic qualities. They accept all submissions because every artist deserves an audience. If the number of submissions exceeds venue capacity, the participating acts are chosen by lottery or on the first come, first served basis.

The Ottawa Fringe Festival is not an exception. It’s a non-curated, open access festival where performing companies and artists are chosen by lottery according to the festival’s geographically tiered quotas: local artists from Ottawa/Gatineau – 50% of the spots; national artists from other parts of Canada – 30% of the spots; international artists from outside Canada – 20% of the spots. 2 spots are reserved for youth artists aged 18 or under. Each winning artist/company gets to perform their show in the same venue at different times over several days.

Since Ottawa is a bilingual city, the program of Ottawa Fringe features both English and French productions as well as a small number of bilingual shows. There are two main categories of performance spots, 60 minute category and 90 minute category, each of the categories has its own registration fee. There’s no censorship at the Ottawa Fringe Festival and the organizers have no say as far as the content of plays is concerned.

According to the CAFF principles and requirements, 100% of the proceeds from ticket sales go to the artists. Tickets generally cost $10, but those attending multiple shows can buy 5- and 10-show passes for $45 and $75 respectively. Besides, each attendee is required to purchase a Fringe Pin which grants entry for the duration of the event. It costs $3. Ottawa Fringe is a non-for-profit charitable organization supported by donations and sponsors.

Fringe performances take place in several venues in downtown Ottawa including the University of Ottawa and Arts Court. All venues are within walking distance from each other. Each year, over 50 companies present more than 300 performances at the largest and longest-running theater festival in Ottawa, providing residents and guests with a unique and exciting experience.

In 2020, the event was held online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Ottawa Fringe

Photo: Andrew Alexander




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