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Fringe Festival Venues

The Philadelphia Fringe Festival operates under a Bring Your Own Venue model. This means that artists who register and self-produce their performances in the festival are responsible for finding and securing their own venues.

This page includes information for venue managers interested in participating in the festival and helpful tools for artists in search of a festival venue.

Please contact the Independent Artist Program Manager, April Rose April@FringeArts.com for information about participating in the Philadelphia Fringe Festival as an artist or a festival venue.

Venues & Fringe Festival Artists

Finding a Venue

Artists are responsible for finding and securing their own venues, but FringeArts is here to help!

We recommend the following strategies to help your venue search:

  • Check out Theatre Philadelphias Venue Database
  • Use the Eventotron Venue Finder
  • Look through previous Philadelphia Fringe Festival guides to see which venues have been used in the past
  • Join Philly artist and performer Facebook groups and ask for suggestions
  • CONTACT US! You can always reach out to FringeArts to ask for suggestions. Contact the Independent Artist programs Manager April@FringeArts.com

Many self-producers like to present art in non-traditional places. Audiences like this too, so don’t be afraid to seek out-of-the-ordinary spaces. We do not require that all artists present in accessible spaces, but we do require some accessibility information about the venue to ensure audiences have all the right information.

Submitting Venue Details

Once an artist has found and signed a venue agreement, they are responsible for submitting venue information in Eventotron, the Fringe Festival registration and information collection platform. Some venues may already be listed on Eventotron, if an artist cannot find their venue, they can add the information in manually.

FringeArts requires that artists submit the following information about their venue:

  • Address
  • Wheelchair Accessibility
  • Capacity
  • Description of venue entrance
  • Description of performance space entrance
  • Is venue a private residence?

Artists should not list a venue in Eventotron as their Fringe Festival venue until they have a signed contract with the venue.

Types of Venue Arrangements

Rentals – The most common venue arrangement for Fringe Festival events is a straightforward rental agreement. This means that an artist pays a fee for the use of the performance space and any other services come with the rental of the space. These services may include things like use of technical equipment, technical staff, concessions, or front of house staff. Artists should be very aware of what services and staff do and do not come with their rental. Depending on the services a rental space provides, an artist may need to budget for hiring staff or paying for equipment. Before securing a venue and paying rental fees, artists should read rental agreements carefully! 

Artists can always ask FringeArts for help if they are having trouble understanding a rental agreement.

Ticket Splits – Another common venue arrangement is a ticket split with the venue. This means that an artist either pays a discounted rate or no rental fee at all and in exchange, the venue keeps a percentage of the ticket income. Before engaging in this type of agreement, artists should estimate how much ticket income they expect to earn for their performance. Even if a rental price is lower up front for a ticket split agreement, the artist may end up making more income by paying a flat rental fee and keeping their full ticket sales.

Free Space Use & Informal Agreements – Many artists use unconventional venues that are not experienced in hosting performances or events. This may mean that the space does not have a rentals manager or a formal rental agreement process. Even if an artist is using a space for free or has some type of informal agreement, they are still strongly encouraged to have a written agreement with the owner of the venue to formalize the costs, expectations, and responsibilities of each party. The last thing an artist needs is to have their venue fall through right before their show is scheduled. If the venue owner does not have an agreement template, the artist can work with them to come up with one or reach out to FringeArts for help in creating an agreement.

Outdoor Venues & Ambulatory Performances – Outdoor performances have become increasingly popular in recent Fringe Festivals. Artists interested in presenting performances outside or staging traveling performances should be very aware of the rules and required permits for staging outdoor events. Just because a venue is in a public space or park does not mean it is up for grabs or free to use. Many of our local parks have frequent programming of their own, require permits to host gatherings, and have rules about ticketed events. Artists should do their research on who manages the park and what are the requirements for use of the space before planning an outdoor event. The same goes for ambulatory performances. Parades and other traveling performances require permits that may take months for the city to process.

Artists should contact FringeArts to help with this research!

Hubs – Philadelphia Fringe Festival Hubs are vibrant centers of activity that host multiple performances and artists during the Philadelphia Fringe Festival. Hubs are spread throughout the city of Philadelphia in order to maximize the impact of festival activities and serve as accessible spaces for audiences outside of the Center City area.

There is no ONE type of Festival Hub, hubs can host as many artists, performances, events, etc. as they are able to and the artist agreement and relationship with the Hub can take many forms. To Find out more about Philadelphia Fringe Festival Hubs please go to FringeArts.com/Festival-Hubs

What to Consider

In searching for the perfect venue, an artist’s decision should be guided by a few general considerations. It is important to consider every aspect of the production so as to avoid complications later on.

  • Accessibility! Is the venue and the performance space wheelchair accessible?
  • In which neighborhood should the show be located?
  • How many seats are desired/needed at each performance?
  • What are the technical needs of the production?
  • What are the staging needs?
  • Does the venue have seating, lighting, a PA system, etc.?
  • Is it an old building? Is it wired for large electrical loads like lighting and sound equipment?
  • Will the neighbors be able to hear the production? Is there a noise curfew?
  • Does the venue have electricity, bathrooms, and enough electrical outlets?
  • Does the venue have air conditioning?
  • Does the venue agreement include rehearsal time?

Respecting the Neighborhood

Artist’s should keep in mind that they are representing the Philadelphia Fringe Festival and the artist community when they are presenting their work. It is imperative that they engage with their venue’s community with the utmost respect. Here are some things to keep in mind to that end:

  • If a venue is a nontraditional space or location, be aware of the way that the show might impact the residents in that neighborhood. Be sensitive to late-night noise, trash, light pollution, and disruptions to traffic. The space may not be soundproofed and the neighbors may not be used to the level of noise and foot traffic a performance brings.
  • If the show takes place in an outdoor location for a large audience, artists must solicit a permit and/or permission from the local neighborhood.
  • The neighborhood around the venue is a great potential audience, so the impression artists make when loading in and presenting a show is key. By being conscientious of their presence and footprint in their neighborhoods, artists can build relationships with neighbors that expand their show’s reach.

Insurance

To protect the artist, the venue, and the Festival regarding any claims for injury or property damage sustained by an audience member or other “third party,” FringeArts require that all participants in the Festival obtain general liability insurance covering themselves and FringeArts. Artists must upload a Certificate of Insurance as proof of coverage on Eventotron.com. This insurance must name FringeArts as “additional insured” on the policy.

Liability Insurance Requirements:

  • $1,000,000 per incident and $2,000,000 in the aggregate
  • Must name FringeArts as “additional insured” on the policy, not as the venue. 
  • Must list the venue on the policy
  • Policy must be in force the entire time the show is running

Artists may secure insurance from any insurance provider as long as the policy fits the above requirements. FringeArts has secured an insurance partner that has a quick and easy policy available designed specifically for Fringe Festival Artists. 

Artists looking for Festival insurance may use the FringeArts & Eventsured Partnership Policy

Become a Fringe Festival Venue

Listing A Venue

Venues interested in getting in front of Fringe Festival artists should first add their venue to Eventotron.com

Eventotron is the artist registration platform that FringeArts utilizes to collect participants information for the annual Philadelphia Fringe Festival. It is also used by other festivals in the United States and around the world. Listing a venue on Eventotron helps touring artists unfamiliar with Philadelphia easily find information about a venue

  • Go to Eventotron.com,
  • Create a profile
  • Click the Venues tab in the navigation
  • Click the +Create a New Venue button
  • Enter Venue Details
  • Add Venue to the 2022 Philadelphia Fringe Festival

If a you are struggling to add venue to this database, contact April@FringeArts.com

Best Practices for Festival Venues

Group Rates
Venues may want to consider putting together a package of options for fringe artists and offering group rates or discounts. Many festival performances are very low maintenance and require little set/tech, which means it is easy to host multiple performances throughout the festival and affordable for artists to share coast and space.

Artist Discounts
Advertising your space directly to artists by contact FringeArts (April@FringeArts.com) is an easy way to reach the pool of participating artists. Many Venues opt to put together a few discount rental options for festival artists.

Helping Artists Market
The biggest challenge to artists every year is marketing their Fringe Festival performances. Venues with a dedicated following and community may want to offer some marketing support to the artists that they host. This can be as simple as a social media takeover, or just sharing a few posts to the venues own network. Festival artists are savvy self promoters and a marketing exchange with the artist and the festival may prove beneficial to the venue!

Rehearsal Space
Not all venues are equipped to handle a full scale performance, but another highly sought after resource before the festival begins is rehearsal space! If your venue is available for rental as rehearsal space in the summer, contact April@FringeArts.com ASAP!

 

Front of House for Festival Venue

Fringe Festival Venues are NOT responsible for managing tickets or front of house staff for artists unless otherwise agreed upon.

Per the festival rules, 80% of the available tickets for every performance must be sold through FringeArts’ ticketing platform.

This means that the artist must have 80% of the available house listed online and may sell 20% of the tickets however they like. Most festival artists opt to manage 100% of their tickets through FringeArts ticketing and Box office.

Every day of the festival and before every show, the artist receives a door list of their ticket buyers in order to manage check in.

Venue & Artist Agreements

The rental agreement between a venue and an artist is entirely the responsibility of the artist. FringeArts often helps artists find a venue but does not broker venue agreements on the artists behalf. If a venue is unaccustomed to establishing rental agreements, they should feel free to reach out to April@FringeArts.com for assistance. 

Once the venue agreement is made, all show information and venue details are the responsibility of the artist to submit as they are acting as the producer of the event. The venue is not responsible for communicating with FringeArts or submitting any information to the festival but venues may contact FringeArts at any time with questions.

Festival Venue Benefits

Benefits of Becoming an Independent Fringe Festival Venue

  • Listing on Eventotron Venue Finder, visible to artists and festivals around the world
  • Listing in Philadelphia Fringe Festival Guide
    • 30,000 Guides Distributed Annually
  • Map link and listing on show ticket and web page on FringeArts.com
    • over 700,000 page views every September
  • Social Media Engagement during peak festival time
  • Ticket sales managed by FringeArts Box Office

Accessibility

Philadelphia, like most of our country, is unfortunately not a particularly accessible city. Independently producing artists are not responsible for the accessibility problems of the city, however, we do require information be disclosed about what audiences can expect, and encourage artists to consider accessibility when planning their Fringe Festival show. The show may be more accessible than you think!

Philadelphia is home to the largest community of working adults living with disabilities in the United States. You could be missing out on audiences because your potential ticket buyers simply don’t know what to expect. And remember – just because a venue is “wheelchair accessible” does not mean that it is ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) Compliant (especially if the bathrooms are not wheelchair accessible). Likewise, just because the venue is not ADA Compliant does not mean that people living with various disabilities might not be able to access it – with the right information about the venue and the performance experience, individuals will be able to assess which shows they can and want to attend.

Wheelchair accessibility is not the only accessibility consideration that artists may want to consider. Services for those with hearing and visual impairment, relaxed performances, and other considerations may make a performance more accessible to audiences. 

During Fringe Festival Artist registration, FringeArts requires some accessibility & content information for us to share with audiences. 

Venue Accessibility

When listing a venue in the Fringe Festival, artists and venue managers alike should consider the following:

  • Is the venue entirely wheelchair accessible? 
  • Is the performance space wheelchair accessible? 
  • Are the bathrooms on the first floor?

FringeArts requires that artists submit details about the venue that may go beyond basic wheelchair accessibility. These questions enable FringeArts Box Office to accurately guide audiences on the artists behalf and avoid confusion. The answers to these questions are used to create resources like Know Before You Go emails that are sent to ticket buyers before the show. 

  • How do audiences find the specific entrance to the venue
    • A street address does not always indicate the specificities of how to get into the venue, and the venue’s accessibility may depend on how patrons get inside
  • Journey from front door to seat
    • Ex. FringeArts: there are no stairs to get from outside the building and into theatre, but you do have to walk past a noisy bar/restaurant. 
    • Describe to us if there are any physical barriers/accommodations in the venue between entering the building and leading audience to seats

Accessibility Services

FringeArts encourages artists to consider budgeting for and offering accessibility services for their audiences.

Services may include: 

  • ASL Interpretation
    • A sign language interpreter stands at the side of the stage, near to seating that has been set aside for those with hearing difficulties, and is illuminated by a spotlight. Throughout the performance, the interpreter signs the lines or sound cues that the audience cannot hear.
  • Open Captioning
    • Open captioning is a text display of words and sounds heard during an event. The display is positioned in such a way that it is open for anyone to see in a particular seating area. It is considered passive assistance, a service that is there to use or ignore.
  • Audio Description
    • AD involves a describer sitting at the rear of the auditorium (in the booth if there is room) providing a narration describing the action on stage. The skill is in not getting in the way of the on stage dialogue, sound effects or other audible movements on stage, but filling in where vision would help with the plot.
  • Ramp Rental
    • for performances taking place in venues without wheelchair access
  • Relaxed Performances
    • A Relaxed Performance is one specifically modified to help audience members with special needs to feel at home in the theatre, and to enable them to feel able to make noise and comment on the performance when they wish to. They are designed for audience members with autism, learning disabilities and sensory or communication needs. The sound level is often reduced, complex lighting changes are simplified, and the cast and company warn families when unexpected noises will occur. Often the house lights are left on, and the audience is given a pre-show tour of the theatre so that they are familiar with the environment. 
  • Childcare for parents in audience
    • ONLY if there is a professional child care provider with child care clearances available. This may impact insurance, so artists should plan this service way in advance of the festival

For more information about these services, contact Independent Artist Programs Manager, April Rose at April@FringeArts.com. 

Audience Expectations 

FringeArts will require that artists submit information about their content and experience of the performance. When choosing a venue and crafting the content of the performance, artists should consider the following:

  • Appropriate age range
    • All artists will be ask to define the appropriate audience for their performance based on the location and content
    • This will range from appropriate for all ages to 21+ only for performances taking place in bars or serving alcohol
  • Content warnings
    • This may include violence, language, nudity, etc.
  • Audience participation/Splash zones
  • Will the audience have to move during the show?
    • audiences with mobility issues may be comfortable getting to the venue and their seat, but should know if they are expected to move once the performance begins. This may impact an audience member’s ability to experience the performance.
  • Flashings lights, extremely loud sounds, fog machine usage, etc. 

 

Marketing for Accessibility Services 

The Fringe Festival Guide and website includes icons next to performances that offer accessibility services for audiences. When artists register to participate in the Festival, they will be asked to indicate wheelchair accessibility and if there will be additional services offered. 

Audiences are also able to search for performances based on accessibility through the Fringe Festival website. 

Outside of this page, there are icons used on the Festival Guide listing and online to indicate accessibility of the performance. FringeArts is committed to highlighting performances that offer services and connecting those performances to communities that would benefit from accessibility services.