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2020 Victoria Fringe Festival Update
This week, the Intrepid staff & board made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Victoria Fringe Festival. This is a really difficult thing to say, but a necessary thing. We have been working hard to find ways in spite of COVID to honour Fringe and create a platform that would be viable and safe for artists and audiences, but are increasingly seeing that despite our best intentions, continuing with Fringe this year is not possible. This summer will be unlike any in the past three decades, as 300 artists from across the country and around the globe who are a part of the Victoria Fringe every year will not be bringing their shows, energy and Fringe spirit to our city.
The spirit of ‘The Show Must Go On’ is deeply ingrained in us, and we have been working for months in planning a new version of a local artist only Victoria Fringe Festival. Even this smaller version of the Fringe is logistically something that we have increasingly realised is beyond our capacity to deliver safely with so many unknowns stretched out before us, and to ensure that we can support the artists with a successful return on their show, and not put the artists, festival staff, volunteers and patrons safety at risk. Our priority is for a safe and healthy community, and making this decision is heartbreaking, but we feel the right choice for our entire community.
We have been working with all of the local and touring companies, who won a spot in the festival through our Fringe Lottery and through the CAFF Touring Lottery in offering spots in the 2021 festival, or a refund and look forward to Fringe-ing with them in 2021.
We will use this time and opportunity to start to safely re-open our venues, to critically analyze our operations and take great care to recognize our blind spots, our weaknesses, and systemic failures. We are aware that Fringe specifically is where BIPOC artists have felt unwelcome and experienced racism, and acknowledge we are accountable to the racism experienced, and we need and must do better. As a Predominantly White Institution, we have work to do and are undergoing Anti-Racism and Cultural Competency Work as a staff and board, beginning this week. In many ways, having this pause in our festival season is a vital part of the journey of creating meaningful, equitable change in our sector, and in our organization, and to break down barriers for Black, Indigenous and POC artists and community, as well as for Trans, Two-Spirit, Queer and disabled artists and community.
Thank you to all of the artists, volunteers, sponsors, patrons, donors, and festival staff who have been patient and supportive as we navigated this difficult decision.
As Dr. Bonnie Henry says, “Stay safe, stay healthy, be kind.” We can’t wait to see you again when it is safe to be back at festivals and in the theatre, experiencing art together.
Photo: Pink Fringe banner against a blue sky, with hanging colourful flower baskets.