Outdoor performance art on a grand scale earns this Fringe: "the Rochester model"

Rochester, NY, Nov. 16, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The 2017 KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival (September 14-23) was “our most successful Fringe yet,” reports the non-profit board of directors that organizes this fast-growing, multi-genre arts festival. Attendance at more than 500 performances and events – 175 of them free of charge – is estimated* at more than 78,000 (a 15% increase over last year’s 68,000).


Beautiful weather throughout the festival no doubt added to the turnout, especially for the U.S. premiere tour of France’s Plasticiens Volants. The world-renowned street theatre company presented its immersive, grand-scale, jaw-dropping spectacle called BIG BANG featuring giant inflatables at Friday and Saturday on the Fringe (Sept. 15 & 16) in a downtown empty lot. An enthralled, combined audience of more than 20,000 people is estimated* to have attended the two performances.


“We are actually being called ‘the Rochester model’ by other fringe festivals across the U.S. and the world because of these huge, free, outdoor shows that we provide every year,” states Festival Producer Erica Fee. “A recent large-scale study into outdoor arts, conducted by the Audience Agency, suggests that outdoor arts achieve what the rest of the arts sector and theatre aspires to but seldom delivers: an audience that is representative of the population as a whole. Making the arts accessible to everyone is a key part of our mission.”


“We’re proud to support Fringe’s mission, and it coincides perfectly with KeyBank’s commitment to helping our communities thrive,” says KeyBank Rochester Market President James Barger. “We saw first-hand how this wildly creative festival adds to the quality of life in Rochester, and we can’t wait until 2018’s Fringe!”


Organizers also announce that, due to overwhelming demand, the KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival will add an extra day in 2018, opening on Wednesday, September 12 and running through Saturday, September 22, turning what has been a 10-day festival for the past five years into an 11-day event.


And, beginning April 1 and continuing through April 30, 2018, artists and producers may submit production proposals directly to the 2018 Fringe’s 20+ venues via Based on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe model, the vast majority of the Fringe’s 500+ shows are selected in this way. Only a few headliners – such as this year’s sold-out John Mulaney: KID GORGEOUS tour at Kodak Hall in Eastman Theatre and all the free, outdoor entertainment – are curated by the Fringe itself.


“In addition to making the arts accessible to audiences, our other key mission is to make audiences accessible to artists, providing them with a platform to share their ideas and develop their skills,” explains Fee, adding that this philosophy holds true for the more than 200 fringe festivals around the world that now take place on every continent except Antarctica.


Director of Movement and Dance at the University of Rochester/BIODANCE Artistic Director Missy Pfohl Smith, who directed LABYRINTH, a multidisciplinary production at the Rochester Museum & Science Center’s  Strasenburgh Planetarium, observes: “With 26 performing artists coming together around themes of climate change, I am both humbled and motivated that more than 1,000 people came to be immersed in our interactive art, with tens of thousands more celebrating the performing arts through the Fringe.”


*Attendance figures are based on modern crowd estimation techniques using a standardized formula (based on the work of Drs. Herbert Jacobs, Ray Watson and Paul Yip: area divided by crowd density) as well as by the Rochester Police Department, venue counts, and ticket sales, and are deemed accurate within 10%, plus or minus.


Rochester Fringe Festival is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) corporation that exists as a means to connect venues, performers, artists, educational institutions and the audience. It was pioneered by several of Rochester’s esteemed cultural institutions, including Geva Theatre Center, the George Eastman House and Garth Fagan Dance, as well as up-and-coming groups like PUSH Physical Theatre and Method Machine. The Board of Directors includes representatives from the University of Rochester, Rochester Institute of Technology, Bond Schoeneck & King PLLC, Boylan Code LLC, the Eastman School of Music, Mengel, Metzger and Barr & Co. LLP, Method Machine, PUSH Physical Theatre, and Writers & Books. The Rochester Fringe Festival is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. This festival is also supported by a grant from Empire State Development’s I LOVE NEW YORK program under Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's Regional Economic Development Council Initiative.


Additional 2017 Fringe sponsors include: KeyBank; New York State Council on the Arts; University of Rochester; Rochester Area Community Foundation; Elaine P. & Richard U. Wilson Foundation; RIT; Ames Amzalak Memorial Trust; National Endowment for the Arts; Waldron Rise Foundation; Gouvernet Arts Fund at the Rochester Area Community Foundation; City of Rochester; Monroe County;  Bond, Schoeneck & King PLLC; Boylan Code LLP; Mengel, Metzger, Barr & Co. LLP; Wegmans; Nocon & Associates; Hyatt Regency Rochester; Ronald Fielding; SUNY Geneseo; The Pike Company; the Max & Marian Farash Charitable Foundation; 13-WHAM; CITY Newspaper; Democrat & Chronicle Media Group; East Avenue Inn & Suites; Broccolo Tree & Lawncare; McCarthy Tents & Events; Daisy Marquis Jones Foundation; The Rubens Family Foundation; The Wilson Foundation; the Kozel Family Foundation; Fred & Floy Willmott Foundation; William G. McGowan Charitable Fund; the College at Brockport; Nazareth College; St. John Fisher College; Visit Rochester; Hamilton A/V; Genesee Beer; City Blue; WXXI; Yelp!; Midtown Athletic;; and ESL Foundation.


About KeyCorp: KeyCorp's roots trace back 190 years to Albany, New York. Headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, Key is one of the nation's largest bank-based financial services companies, with assets of approximately $136.7 billion at September 30, 2017. Key provides deposit, lending, cash management, insurance, and investment services to individuals and businesses in 15 states under the name KeyBank National Association through a network of more than 1,200 branches and more than 1,500 ATMs. Key also provides a broad range of sophisticated corporate and investment banking products, such as merger and acquisition advice, public and private debt and equity, syndications and derivatives to middle market companies in selected industries throughout the United States under the KeyBanc Capital Markets trade name. For more information, visit KeyBank is Member FDIC.


Media please note: Fringe media assets including photos from this year’s Fringe, press releases, and more can be found at Interviews and photo/footage opportunities can also be arranged. Please visit for more information.




A photo accompanying this announcement is available at


A photo accompanying this announcement is available at


A photo accompanying this announcement is available at

Plasticiens Volants presents BIG BANG at the KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival, September 2017. Photo credit: John Schlia. More than 20,000 people view Plasticiens Volant's BIG BANG at the 2017 KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival. Photo credit: Erich Camping.

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