HomeNewsNanaimo Fringe Festival expanding with outdoor performances, adhering COVID restrictions

Nanaimo Fringe Festival expanding with outdoor performances, adhering COVID restrictions

The Nanaimo Fringe Festival will be once again allowing artists and audience members to visit the theatre.

“Not a lot of festivals were able to produce last year, largely because they rely on international artists, but because we are a smaller fringe we were able to pivot and hold an online festival,” said Tamara McCarthy, associate artistic producer for the Nanaimo Fringe Festival. “This year is very exciting because we are going to be outdoors for the first time ever.”

The fringe will be debuting two performances in the Old City Quarter at Gallery Row. Despite some performances being outdoors, the festival will still be adhering to COVID guidelines. 

“We can’t just go back to how it was in 2019. We are expanding. Introducing the outdoor venue is new, and of course, that brings in a whole bunch of things, like washrooms, and security, and the heatwave which is starting [today] and all of these factors we hadn’t considered before.”

Notably, the number of audience members will be restricted to 50, and contact tracing will be performed on guests.

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“We’re communicating with artists since February, and they’re going ‘how many people are going to be allowed at my show?’ ‘Great question!’ Really, I mean it’s just me and the artistic managing producer, and the event manager / volunteer coordinator trying to manage all these balls in the air.”

McCarthy states that once they got the confirmation that the festival could happen, they ‘hit the ground running’ to make sure it happened. While she states there have been some issues— such as the fact that they would be unable to serve food at the Beer Gardens— the festival has also had a great reception.

“There is a lot of buzz around town, and we’re hearing people are excited! We have more volunteers than I think we have ever, so that’s a real promising sign. The Port Theatre is hosting our pre-ticket sales, which is fantastic. They seem to be selling tickets, which is exciting because the Fringe is often a walk-up situation, but people are pre-booking and there’ll be lots of room for people to walk up to the door— sort of classic Fringe style, looking at the brochure and going ‘what’s on right now? Oh, I can get there in ten minutes’ then swing back and get back to the other venue for the next show.”

McCarthy states that their preview happening today has been sold out completely. The preview consists of multiple artists performing 5 minutes from each of their respective plays to get audiences to buy a ticket to them.

Artists who perform at the fringe are chosen based off a ‘lottery system’ where if their name entered, drawn from a hat, and if chosen, they may perform. Performances picked are not curated.

At the Nanaimo Fringe, artists take 100% of their box office. Meanwhile, the Fringe gets money through a $5 pin that gets put on audience member shirts. More details about the artists and the schedule are available here.

The Nanaimo Fringe is volunteer-based, and part of a wider collection of festivals held throughout Canada. 

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