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Fringe benefits from lessons learned in 2012 festival

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 24, 2012 - Only one day after the St. Lou Fringe Festival ended last June, organizers began untangling information gained from the festival and the feedback.

The biggest and possibly only misstep: scheduling it on the same weekend as Pride St. Louis’ annual celebration of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. That won’t happen in 2013.

Next year’s Fringe will be held June 20-24, which encompasses the weekend before PrideFest. That was actually the plan this past year. The Pride event usually falls on the last weekend of June, since it’s held on the fourth weekend. But June 2012 had five weekends, and Fringe founder Em Piro and others didn’t realize the conflict until it was too late.

In 2013, organizers of the two events will work together. One facet of cross-promotion may include Fringe previews at Pride fundraisers.

“I think a lot of what we do overlaps. They told us, ‘We think what you’re doing is great and we want to collaborate with you,’” Piro said.

More art on the fringe

Piro’s also eyeing the possibility of billboards, and inclusion in St. Louis’  Convention & Visitors Commission promotional materials.

Fringe has recently obtained its 501(c)(3) nonprofit status, allowing it to apply for more grant money while still receiving support from Grand Center.

Piro hopes this past summer’s 1,000 unique audience members for the Locust Business District/Grand Center event will increase to to 3,000 or even 5,000. For the most part, she hopes to achieve that with an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” kind of a plan.

“What was really exciting this year was that everything went off really really smoothly,” Piro said. “We didn’t really have any fires to put out.”

Next year’s theme will be revealed January 18 at a “Submit to Fringe” party at the Schlafly Tap Room. Applicants for the Fringe will be selected by a combination first-come-first-served and random lottery system.

One new addition in year two will be more visual art surrounding the Fringe.

“It’s like, how can we just kind of make our neighborhood a little more fantastical and edgy -- and a little bit more on the fringe?” Piro said.

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