Have an act for the 2019 Fringe? The submission period is coming up soon

In seven years' time, the KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival has proven to be a key element of the Rochester arts and entertainment scene, serving much the same role for the arts in general each September as the annual jazz fest does for music each June: a week-plus of celebrating the creative spirit.

Starting in 2012 with five days, the Fringe Fest has been growing steadily, and now it's growing again: Organizers announced Wednesday that next year's festival would expand to 12 days, from Sept. 10 through Sept. 21. That's just one year after it grew from 10 to 11 days in 2018.

Those 11 days this past September saw 549 performances and events in 33 spaces at 23 venues — performances ranging from sketch comedy to drag shows, interactive street theatre to cabaret shows, performance art to improv to film screenings to circus-style acts to live music of multiple genres; performances in every genre you can think of and quite a few you probably never have. It included a large number — 120 — of sold-out shows, including comedian Eddie Izzard, a production of "Carrie: The Musical," the Cirque du Fringe, and a performance by the EstroFest women's sketch comedy troupe, among many others. The 11 days of the fest drew more than 78,000 attendees, according to festivael organizers.

“2018 was the best Fringe for us yet,” stated Fringe Venue Manager/Arts Center Manager Adele Fico at School of the Arts (SOTA), the festival’s largest independent venue boasting five spaces. “I also sensed a greater understanding on the part of the audience regarding just how special this festival is for our community.”

Even a freak tornado on the second weekend — and resulting power outages, flooding and other problems — didn't stop the 2018 Fringe from surpassing expections, organizers say.

The mission of Rochester Fringe Festival — a not-for-profit, 501(c)3 corporation — is, as stated in a Fringe release, "to make arts readily accessible to audiences, as well as to provide a platform for artists to share their ideas and develop their skills, while stimulating downtown Rochester both culturally and economically."

Building a bigger and better Fringe will require commitment and effort on the part of organizers and artists alike — so if you have an act you'd like to take to Fringe, the 2019 show submittion period is being moved up earlier and running longer, from four weeks this year to six weeks: March 1 through April 15. To submit a show for consideration for Fringe, go to rochesterfringe.com. The submissions — which are free — go directly to the venues, which book on a rolling admissions basis that favors earlier applications.

In other words? Get busy.