Local Happenings: The Fringes of Town
For 11 days every July, the Kansas City Fringe Festival spreads music, art, theater, comedy, dance, clowning, and burlesque across Kansas City’s creative neighborhoods. Producing shows back-to-back in 10-15 locations throughout Westport, Midtown, the Crossroads, and the Historic Northeast, the festival is practically a scavenger hunt of artistic experiences. After purchasing a festival button, each festival-goer can pick and choose between hundreds of performances, buying individual tickets, punchcards, or an all-you-can-watch pass. The festival can help fans of more traditional theater to discover the smaller (and sometimes edgier) venues in our entertainment districts. & Since it’s unjuried and (almost) uncensored, artists bring their newest, boldest, and most innovative expression to the Fringe.
For the attendees, it’s an opportunity to be more than an audience. The Kansas City Fringe Festival has always been run entirely by volunteers, and volunteering creates a chance to get behind the scenes and connect with the performers. It’s even possible for residents to host artists (or performance groups) in their homes. Of course, above all, Fringe-goers and volunteers become more than just an audience because they are supporting the creativity and livelihood of our local performers, and of the international talent who travel to Kansas City for our festival. After all, the only money used by the KC Fringe is the button cost: all the ticket prices go to the artists and venues.
For the artists, Fringe is also a chance to branch out or go beyond the norm (sometimes far beyond it). It can be a gateway for brand new talent or new works; many performers or writers make their debut at Fringe festivals, because the production costs are so much lower. One of Kansas City Fringe’s youngest playwrights went on to win a national young playwriters competition after his first Fringe, and the festival has since added a segment specifically for teens exploring the arts. In other performances, well-known artists seize the opportunity to offer something they couldn’t do with their usual production company, something newer, bolder, or more provocative.
All in all, the Fringe Festival is an opportunity to explore, whether that is discovering new venues, new talent, or new ideas... Some people say you’re not really Fringe-ing until you stumble onto a performance you never expected to see.
Want to discover homes that are in walking distance of these venues and performances? Explore these creative neighborhoods: Westport, Midtown/Crossroads, Historic Northeast.