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Rochester Fringe calls for shows, with an emphasis on artists of color

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CITY Newspaper

Rochester Fringe reiterated its call for entries Tuesday with a specific emphasis on submissions by artists of color.

The festival opened its submission process in June, and regularly repeats its calls for entries. But the latest invitation was notable for its appeal for artists of color.

“As always, Fringe aims to reflect the broad, diverse perspectives of artists and arts organizations in our community,” the organization wrote in an email titled “Call for Artists of Color” to festival supporters, media, and arts organizations. “The work of Artists of Color is welcome and valued.”

Applications can be submitted at and are due by July 31 at 5 p.m. The 2020 festival is scheduled for September 15-26.

The emphasis on artists of color follows weeks of demonstrations around the country that have underscored the nation's long history with racism and have prompted many organizations and businesses to find ways to bridge the racial economic divide in America.

Thomas Warfield, a Fringe board member who leads the organization’s Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility Committee, said the call for applicants of color was a small step toward greater inclusion that has been a focus of the festival for a while.

“It’s not enough to change,” Warfield said. “You have to understand why change is necessary, and that’s part of our education in moving forward.”

Organizers announced earlier in the summer that due to the ongoing pandemic, this fall’s 9th annual KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival will be a mostly virtual affair. Local health officials have recommended that to keep performers and attendees safe, most in-person events be held online.

What does this mean for performers, for venues that participated in the past, and for viewers?

One big change is that since artists will be streaming performances from home in most cases, instead of working out of venues, 100 percent of ticket sales will go directly to the artists (less credit card transactions and a ticketing fee of $1 per ticket).

Fringe organizers have not yet announced what percentage, if any, of the shows can be enjoyed in person, and which, if any, venues will be involved.

Artists can now submit show proposals in categories of theatre, comedy, dance, music, visual arts, children’s entertainment, physical theatre, musical theatre, opera, poetry, literature and a blend of experiences for a registration fee of $25.

Those who submitted a show application before the switch to a virtual festival was announced can return to their application to answer some additional questions. Show proposals will be screened by Fringe organizers to meet appropriateness, inclusion, and accessibility concerns.

Applicants will be informed of their acceptance by 5 p.m. on August 7, and Rochester Fringe’s “Big Reveal” will take place on August 25, when ticket sales open to the public.

Rebecca Rafferty is CITY’s arts & entertainment editor, and can be reached at