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Rochester Fringe Festival To Receive $30,000 Award From NEA

The 2021 KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival is set for Tuesday, September 14 – Saturday, September 25.

Rochester Fringe Festival To Receive $30,000 Award From NEA

Rochester Fringe Festival, Inc. has been approved for a $30,000 Grants for Arts Projects award to support its 2021 festival, the largest National Endowment for the Arts award in the Fringe's history. It is among 1,073 projects across the U.S. totaling nearly $25 million that were selected during this first round of fiscal year 2021 funding in the Grants for Arts Projects funding category, as announced by the NEA earlier today.

"The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support Rochester Fringe Festival, Inc.," says Arts Endowment Acting Chairman Ann Eilers. "It is among the arts organizations across the country that have demonstrated creativity, excellence, and resilience during this very challenging year."

Although the 2019 Fringe broke previous attendance records with more than 100,000 visitors, 2020's global pandemic required Fringe to either pivot to a virtual model or go dark. Rather than take over its more than 25 downtown Rochester venues, the ninth annual festival connected artists and audiences from all over the world in the safety of their own homes. It successfully presented Virtual Fringe, with more than 170 online productions - both live-streamed and on-demand - more than 70 of which were free of charge. The offerings covered all the festival's usual wide range of genres: Comedy, Dance, Kids Fringe, Multidisciplinary, Music, Spoken Word, Theatre, and Visual Arts & Film.

"We are grateful to the festival for not just skipping last year because we all needed to be reminded that we're still here, still laughing, and still living," report Matt and Heidi Morgan, creators of 2020's virtual Cirque du Fringe: Quarantini and Shotspeare Presents: The Complete Works of William Shakespeare...sort of.

Fringe-curated productions also included two free offerings: the four-part, live-streamed FringeTalk artist conversation series as well as two Memory Palace podcast episodes based on Rochester history. The vast majority of 2020's productions, however, were submitted by artists themselves. For the first time, last year's Fringe also offered two, off-season productions: Bushwhacked British Bake Off: Holiday Edition and a New Year's Eve encore performance of Shotspeare.

"We are thrilled to be included in this much-needed distribution and thank the National Endowment of the Arts for recognizing our contribution," states Justin L. Vigdor, chairperson of the Rochester Fringe Festival Board of Directors. "We'd especially like to thank Joe Morelle for his efforts on behalf of Fringe and the arts in general."

"Rochester is blessed to have such a vibrant and talented arts community that is put on full display each year with the Rochester Fringe Festival" says Congressman Joe Morelle. "The Fringe has always remained committed to promoting both creativity and accessibility for artists and patrons alike, and that commitment has not wavered despite the COVID-19 pandemic. I am thrilled that this grant is going to such a worthy organization and look forward to what the Fringe has in store for our community for years to come."

The 2021 KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival is set for Tuesday, September 14 - Saturday, September 25. More details will be announced soon.

"This NEA funding will allow Fringe to continue its important missions of providing a platform for artists and accessibility to the arts for our tenth anniversary this year," adds Festival Producer Erica Fee. "If 2021 is a year for healing and unity, nothing can bring a community together quite like the arts."

For more information on projects included in the Arts Endowment grant announcement, visit

From its five-day debut in 2012, the 12-day KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival has become one of the fastest-growing and most-attended fringe festivals in the U.S. It is also the largest multidisciplinary performing arts festival in New York State. As a bifurcated festival, it allows for a combination of headline entertainment curated by the non-profit Rochester Fringe Festival as well as an open-access portion.

Rochester Fringe Festival connects and empowers artists, audiences, venues, educational institutions, and the community to celebrate, explore, and inspire creativity via an annual, multi-genre arts festival. It was pioneered by several of Rochester's esteemed cultural institutions including Geva Theatre Center, the George Eastman Museum and Garth Fagan Dance; up-and-coming arts groups like PUSH Physical Theatre and Method Machine; and higher-education partners such as the University of Rochester and Rochester Institute of Technology. The not-for-profit organization's overarching mission is to provide a platform for artists to share their ideas and develop their skills, while being as diverse and inclusive as possible.

2020 sponsors included: KeyBank; New York State Council on the Arts; University of Rochester; Rochester Area Community Foundation; Ames Amzalak Memorial Trust; Nocon & Associates Waldron Rise; RIT; Estate of Marianne Rohack; National Endowment for the Arts; Daisy Marquis Jones Foundation; Konar Enterprises; Mary Mulligan Trust; Max and Marian Farash Charitable Foundation; ESL Foundation; JM McDonald Foundation; The Pike Company; Louis S. & Molly B. Wolk Foundation; Big Slide Creative; Cheshire Audio Visual;13WHAM TV; CITY Newspaper; D&C Digital; Nazareth College; SUNY Brockport; St. John Fisher College; City Blue; WXXI; The Rubens Family Foundation; Bond Schoeneck & King; Boylan Code; and Canandaigua National Bank.

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