MINNEAPOLIS AND ST. PAUL — Minnesota Fringe Festival, the Midwest’s largest performing arts festival, opened with a remarkable 19 percent jump in attendance over last year’s event, the festival announced today.
Preliminary numbers for the first four days of the annual eleven-day performing arts festival—Thurs., July 30 through Sun., Aug. 2—show that 16,814 tickets were issued, a massive increase over last year’s 14,133 tickets.
“I’m elated, absolutely,” said executive director Robin C. Gillette. “We’re issuing tickets hand over fist. It’s been an astonishing opener.”
Of this year’s 162 productions, nine ten companies sold out their first performances and a total of 18 19 performances sold out. Among the sold-out shows are Bring Your Own Venue productions—a Fringe program dedicated to site-specific work—and two shows at Gremlin Theatre, Fringe’s first St. Paul venue.
Traffic to the festival’s Web site, fringefestival.org, increased 46 percent. By 11 a.m. today, the site had received over 1,400 audience-submitted show reviews, well on pace to eclipse last year’s total, and previous festival record, of 2,200.
“The people of Minnesota have really hooked in to this year’s festival,” Gillette said. “We’ve been working very hard all year round to increase our outreach efforts and make Fringe the most accessible, affordable and welcoming performing arts event in the region.”
“The response and the engagement has been extraordinary on every level, from our volunteers to ticket buyers to our sponsors and the press,” she said. “And, honestly, adding this many more people to Fringe’s world makes it that much more fun.”
Minnesota Fringe, celebrating its 16th year in 2009, runs through Sun., Aug. 9 at 22 different venues in Minneapolis and St. Paul. More information at fringefestival.org.
Note: This was updated at 3:35 p.m.