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Interview: Dawn Bentley of MINNESOTA FRINGE FESTIVAL at Minnesota Fringe

Minnesota Fringe Festival takes place August 4th - 14th

Interview: Dawn Bentley of MINNESOTA FRINGE FESTIVAL at Minnesota Fringe

Minnesota Fringe connects adventurous artists with adventurous audiences by creating open, supportive forums for free and diverse artistic expression.

Through our summer festival and dynamic year-round programming, Minnesota Fringe is an artistic disruptor for local and national artists - to take bold risks, develop new ideas, and hoist themselves to the next rung of their artistic ladder.

As the producer of the largest performing arts festival in the Midwest, our annual Minnesota Fringe Festival event fills tens-of-thousands of seats with audiences viewing dozens of works at hundreds of performances by more than 1,000 artists on a variety of stages in late summer.

We chat with the Executive Director Dawn Bentley on this years Minnesota Fringe Festival.

How does it feel to have live audiences, theatre, and performances back?

It's truly incredible to be back in theaters. The hum of the crowd and the palpable energy of sharing an experience with other audience members is what makes the Fringe Festival such an exciting adventure.

Due to the pandemic, this is the first in person fringe since 2019? Has anything changed?

The most obvious change is that we made the decision to be a 100% vaccinated festival prior to opening up our artist call, hiring any seasonal staff, or soliciting volunteers as the best way at the time that we could reassure all participants that we cared for their safety while interacting with our programming. Additional precautions will be taken if the festival falls during a particularly heightened community spread level and we encourage folks to take any necessary steps to protect themselves against transmission or contraction of COVID-19.

We have made some behind the scenes changes in staffing and the services we provide artists leading up to the Festival that, hopefully, demonstrate follow through on our commitments, support positive accountability, and create a respectful environment to ensure all voices are heard. Additions such as the Equity Lottery and a pay-what-you-can application fee as well as expansion of the number of Festival Artist Grant recipients has lowered the barriers to participation and broadened our offering to include new artists who had not previously engaged with our programming.

What should performers in the Fringe look forward to at the Fringe this year?

As is every year, performers can look forward to staging their shows in bonafide theater spaces throughout Minneapolis with professional technicians and front-of-house personnel to ensure operations run smoothly. Artists are provided a full administrative platform that allows them to focus on their art while Fringe supports efforts to engage audiences and foster connections among their peers.

What should attendees look forward to at the Fringe this year?

Attendees should feel welcomed as an essential part of the Fringe community and invited to be co-creators of our annual adventure. Audiences will find an ease of access to participate and engage with the more than 595 performances offered this year. Regardless of a patron's frequency of attending other arts events during the rest of the year, everyone who comes to the Fringe Festival can find something to stimulate an appreciation and expand their notions of the performing arts.

What makes the MN Fringe Festival a great theatre experience?

The variety of genre, content, features, and venues found at the Minnesota Fringe Festival creates a multifaceted gateway to the arts. Fringe Festival shows are short, inexpensive, and diverse to create an atmosphere that encourages adventure and experimentation.

What do you hope performers take away from the festival this year?

We hope performers find a collaborative creative community that strengthens their skill base and engages them with a sense of artistic freedom on our stages. We also want artists who have been stifled throughout the pandemic to feel inspired to create once again after seeing their peers take to the stage.

What do you hope attendees take away from the festival?

We hope attendees find joy in the creative expression of artists on stage and feel a connection to a community that actively supports the theater.

Thank you Dawn for your time!

For more Minnesota Fringe Festival information and tickets, click the button below

From This Author - Jared Fessler

Jared [He/Him] is originally from Iowa and resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He grew up doing theatre and studied music, dance, and theatre with additional training in BFA musical theatre.

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