The Rochester Fringe Festival is a multi-disciplinary 12-day arts festival that draws more than 100,000 people each September into the heart of downtown Rochester, New York. It features hundreds of performances by musicians, comedians, dancers, theatre groups and more, with 90% of shows including performers, directors, and creators from the local community. Of the more than 500 shows offered each year about 120 are free, making this one of the city’s most broadly accessible arts festivals.
In order to provide these “free” community events, the Producer and Board of Fringe and Grants4Good LLC work together year-round to secure over $600,000 in donations from individuals, foundations, corporations, as well as federal and state grants. Grants are essential to putting on this revolutionary arts festival, as they pay for artists’ fees, staffing, space rental, security, lighting, sound, equipment, advertising and marketing.
With funding for the arts on the decline in recent years, the competition for grants is on the rise. For this reason, grant seeking begins 18 months prior to each festival and requires ongoing funder meetings, stewardship, grant proposal writing and follow up. But the results are well worth the effort:
“If we didn’t have grant funding, the Key Bank Rochester Fringe Festival would be a shadow of its current self. Grant funding allows us to bring in huge acts…pay staff…advertise… it allows us to be an organization that can really contribute to the community.” Erica Fee, Producer and Board President, Rochester Fringe Festival, Inc.
Cover photo by Erich Camping.