The New York International Fringe Festival, or FringeNYC, is a festival that brings performances from fringe theatres (non-mainstream, off-off Broadway) throughout the world to New York City for a sixteen-day festival. In terms of it size, it works in what FringeNYC refers to as “the great inverted period” with: 75,000 audience members, 5,000 artists, 1,500 volunteers, 1,200 performances, 190 shows, 100 volunteer staff, 20 venues, 16 days and 2 full-time employees. It began in 1997 when a theatre company on the Lower East Side had received an invitation to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, but realized that New York City – one of the greatest theatre hubs in the world – deserved a festival of its own.
Living in New York City during high school, I had always heard of the wonders of FringeNYC. Therefore, there was not much locating or researching to be done in finding my internship. I’ve always had a passion for fringe theatre; I find it has a rawness and a propensity towards pushing boundaries that is much more interesting than for-profit, Broadway theatre. Therefore, when looking for an internship this summer, I needn’t looked much further than the FringeNYC website to find that they were looking for administrative interns. Shortly after submitting a cover letter and resumé, the festival administrator – now my boss – contacted me for an interview and the rest is history.
As an administrative intern – or FringeTERN as FringeNYC likes to call us – my duties include most of the daily tasks needed to produce a festival. So far, I have helped with inputting data – such as show times and the technical and scheduling needs of participants – and have facilitated a marketing mixer with FringeNYC participants in which we discussed how best to market their shows. Right now, FringeNYC is in the midst of scheduling their festival. Much is involved in scheduling the festival; we as FringeTERNS must consider the conflicts of both the participants and the venues, as well as take care to make sure that the number of shows, show times and dates are fairly distributed between the approximately 190 participants.
FringeNYC has only two full-time staff: the Festival Administrator and the Producing Artistic Director. Volunteers do everything else. When I heard this, I was amazed. How was it that a festival of this magnitude could run so smoothly with only two full-time staff? However, since I have started working with FringeNYC, I have come to learn that it is because the two administrators – in addition to doing all they do – are so patient and helpful in training and educating the volunteers and FringeTERNS like myself on the inner-workings of the festival. There are fifteen of us FringeTERNS and on any given day – in addition to the two full time staff members – five or six other FringeTERNS could be in the office. Since we’re all roughly the same age and share the same interests, having the other FringeTERNS in the office with me allows for a very comfortable working space in which we can all collaborate and help each other. Everyone is so supportive and hard working; I fully attribute the good times I’ve had at FringeNYC thus far to the people with whom I’ve been working.
Being an intern for FringeNYC is a dream come true. Every day I am surrounded by and learning from those who share my passion. It has been fascinating learning the hard work and planning that goes into making the fringe festival that so many will enjoy come August. Additionally, with the marketing mixer, I was fortunate enough to meet many participants and artists and hear what their shows are about and where their interests lie. This summer promises to be one filled with new experiences and new, innovative and exciting theatre. I am excited to continue my work with FringeNYC and I especially can’t wait for the festival itself to begin because – instead of just knowing blurbs, show times and show names – I can finally see all these performances FringeNYC has been working so hard to put up!