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Nanaimo Fringe Festival focuses on outdoor attendance, phases out livestreams

The Fringe Festival has come back to Nanaimo once more.

It marks the second year the festival has offered its beer gardens and outdoor theatre. 

Tamara McCarthy, Associate Artistic Producer for the festival, says last year had a few people a little befuddled about the outdoor portion.

“I think it was just that the first year, people didn’t really know necessarily what was going on,” said McCarthy. “So we’re hoping to help people actually know where to come this year, where to find us. It’s kind of in a little cranny, Gallery Row [in the Old City Quarter], so we’re hoping to allow people to figure out what’s happening a bit easier than just happening to stumble upon us.”

Tamara says they hope a bit of foot traffic from the nearby soap box derby will assist in people finding the beer garden shows, as well as word of mouth.

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There will be 11 shows in total, with most hosted at the OV Arts Centre and Port Theatre. Two of those shows will be outdoors, at the beer garden.

“So we’re hoping that there’s gonna be a lot of people in the area that day,” said McCarthy. “We’re hoping that will bring some traffic, and then also word of mouth, saying ‘Hey there’s something going on there!’ Like, the soap box derby is happening next weekend, so we’re hoping that that word of mouth will travel from other events as that are back on now.”

This year also sees the phasing out of streamed shows. The Port Theatre used to host the livestreams— operating the cameras and covering costs— however, the Port no longer does them. McCarthy says the Fringe didn’t have the money for the streams, and online attendance was lower in 2021 than 2020, meaning there was no incentive to do them once more.

The Fringe has also opened up its international component once more, which has not been opened since before the pandemic began.

“In 2020 we had some people appear virtually, but now they’re actually going to be here,” said McCarthy. “We have Flora Le, she’s heading up from Washington DC, and she’ll be at the Port. Also at the Port Theatre will be Bennet Caffee who is from San Francisco. So we got international back on, which is exciting.”

Since last year, the Fringe has increased its staffing, allowing things to go more smoothly. With the re-ignition of the Night Market, the Fringe has been more able to make sure residents know they’re in town.

On Monday, the Fringe is putting on a social media workshop at the OV for the actors participating in the festival. However, non-festival attendants can also join at $50 a head.

More information about the shows, ticketing, and how to volunteer can be found on the Fringe’s website.

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