Who We Are

What is a Fringe?

Fringes are uncensored, non-juried theatre festivals, bringing together emerging and established artists alike to tell their stories on stage.

The first Fringe started in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1947 and has grown into one of the biggest performing arts festivals in the world. The second-largest festival in North America is in Edmonton, Alberta , and draws nearly 800,000 attendees a year!

How did the Calgary Fringe begin?

While touring Rocky Horror at the Edmonton Fringe Festival, Blair Gallant, the founder of the Calgary Fringe, was struck by the sense of community, understanding and community identity based on tolerance that he experienced while at the festival. And the spark was ignited to create a new cultural identity for Calgary!

With an unique blend of artistic and a entrepreneurial commercial background, the foundations were set in place to make the Calgary Fringe a sustainable and culturally open festival. From the beginning, Blair wanted to build a festival from a few simple ideas:

  1. Create a place where a sense of community is created by using the arts as a conduit to mix bohemian artists with a culturally and socio-economically diverse group.  

  2. Provide a place where Artists are free to create without restrictions.  

  3. Tolerance comes from the idea that just because it is wrong for me doesn’t make it wrong for you.  

  4. The public should have the choice of being exposed to different art forms – or not.

  5. That the festival itself should have no other agenda other than to allow others to have an agenda.

First year plans for 2006 were overly ambitious: 36 theatre companies with 210 performances, five indoor theatre venues, 61 independent films, 18 local bands, 14 international street performers, 200 vendors, 24 youth circus performances, Canadian body painting performances, 10 visual artists, and 10 days of an outdoor festival held primarily along 17 Ave SW.

Theatrical performances were split between the nearby Calgary Opera rehearsal hall and the EPCOR Centre for the Performing Arts, located in the downtown core.   

In 2007, the Calgary Fringe Festival was relocated primarily in downtown core, with theatre venues at the Glenbow Museum, EPCOR Centre and the #1 Legion. In 2008, we saw the Calgary Fringe finally put down roots in historic Inglewood. All theatre venues were within walking distance.

The current Calgary Fringe is now a dynamic nine-day festival, situated in the calendar between the Winnipeg Fringe and the Edmonton Fringe. The next phase of the Calgary Fringe’s future continues to be guided by Michele Gallant, the Fringe Mom, Festival Director and Producer.

How many shows will there be to choose from?

The Calgary Fringe hosts a combination of local, national and international productions – usually around 30 shows – for a total of over 160 performances over nine days.

You must be looking to cash in in a big way!

Actually, by mounting a Fringe Festival, we (gladly) agree to abide by the four governing principles of the Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals, one of which is that 100% of ticket revenue is returned directly to the artists. This is an opportunity for them to make money, not us.

But you don't have to pay the bills? You don't need to eat?

But of course, which is why we rely on our wonderful and dedicated sponsors, as well as donations from wonderful and dedicated patrons – like you! – to keep the Calgary Fringe up and running for years to come.

I want to help!

Great! There are many ways you can help the Calgary Fringe, and not just by donating money. You can donate your time by becoming a volunteer (and you’ll bag some swag and get to see some free shows to boot).

Please visit our volunteer page and download an application form. We’re also looking for billets – that is, people to host our out of town artists so they’re not blowing their budget on accommodations while in town. And “thanks!” in advance.

Are you affiliated any of the other Fringes across Canada?

“Fringe” and “Fringe Festival” are registered trademarks of the Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals. All of Canada’s unique fringe festivals form this cooperative member driven organization – CAFF. Edmonton is one of the founding members of CAFF and a valuable resource and partner with the Calgary Fringe!

For more information about CAFF, please visit their site.