2015 Hollywood Fringe Festival Generates $400,000 in Ticket Sales

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Some people have bitched and complained to me that the Hollywood Fringe Festival is just one big rip off, they make you pay your entrance fee, give you access to a cool website and then you’re on your own. To which I reply, you are absolutely correct, to an extent, but you’re looking at the opportunity incorrectly.

And that’s what the Fringe is, always has been and remains, an opportunity, some take advantage of it, some don’t. But even beyond the artistic and creative opportunities that are provided, even beyond the community that it engenders, what is most exciting to me is the market it creates. When people say there is no audience for theater in LA my answer is, bullshit. I saw 35 shows at this year’s Fringe, not one was below half capacity and most were sold out. 285 productions, over 1500 performances, $400,000 in tickets sales generated, all going back to the artists, over 50,000 tickets sold.

In one month.

We like to think we’ve had a small hand in the success of the Fringe over here at the Lemon, but mostly these guys and gals have been the ones leading the charge and showing without a doubt that there is a better way to do the business of making theater in this town. And as the Godfather of the Fringe, Ezra Buzzington, himself says, this is the new model for successful theater in the US:

Regional theatres in America have grown less subservient to the American public’s needs while simultaneously attempting to coax that same public into its sanctuary by appealing only to that audience’s imagined desires: stunt-casting, razzle-dazzle, easily grasped concepts and undemanding execution. But that isn’t filling the seats. The result is a kind of schizophrenia that culminates in pulled punches, vapid, uninformed choices, an administrative worshipping of false gods and a devouring of its own tail. Which is where the Fringe Theatre Movement comes in.

Check these numbers from the recent HFF Presser:

Hollywood Fringe Festival organizers announced today that the sixth annual festival, which closed June 28th, was the biggest festival yet, selling at least 50,000 tickets. The numbers reflect a growth trend that has been in place since the festival began in 2010: 

Ticket sales have increased 300% since the inaugural festival (2010)

Sales increased 10% over last year

The festival sold an estimated $400,000 in tickets this year. Approximately 68% of all tickets were “Fringe-sold” (sold directly through www.hollywoodfringe.org and the Fringe box office) and the remaining 32% of transactions were “venue-sold” (sold at the door of participating venues). It’s important to note that the central Fringe organization doesn’t touch this money— all $400,000 has been returned to Fringe artists and venues. 

285 productions participated in this year’s event, mounting nearly 1,500 performances at 39 spaces throughout central Hollywood.  

Organizers say they are already planning for the 2016 Hollywood Fringe Festival; dates will be announced soon. 

That is substantial and simply cannot be ignored by anyone who is serious about making theater in this town.

Low risk production costs, allowing for high risk creativity creating a vital market that provides for a symbiotic relationship between those two wary cousins, commerce and art.

People who say that it can’t be sustained here in Los Angeles are simply wrong.