The 8th annual KC Fringe Festival, a 10-day festival of cultural arts, kicks off this week.
This year's festival (Thursday, July 19 through Sunday, July 29, 2012) includes theater, music, dance, film, performance art, visual art, spoken word, and more. There are also offerings aimed at younger audiences.
Never been to a Fringe Fest? We thought we'd put together a few tips to help you navigate.
1. Buy a button. It's $5. You can buy it at the door of any event, or online, but you won't get in without it.
2. Make a plan. There are 168 entries in this year's festival, including 87 in performance and film. According to theater artist Heidi Van, "The Fringe really has something for everyone. There's a whole menu of performances and quite a quality showing of out-of-town artists." Check out the KC Fringe program for a complete listing.
3. Buy tickets in advance. Heidi Van, also curator of Fishtank Performance Studio, has presented works at KC Fringe and New Orleans Fringe. Van's advice for Fringe-goers: "Do some research and purchase tickets in advance! Shows sell out!" Note: The Fishtank, in the Crossroads Arts District, is one of this year's KC Fringe venues, hosting 7 solo shows.
- How much? Tickets range from $5 - $10, plus the mandatory $5 admission button (see above). If you anticipate attending several shows, you can also purchase a punch card, or an all access pass.
- Where to buy tickets? Tickets can be purchased in advance online, at the venue 30 minutes before performances, or at the Fringe 411 Ticket Booth. This kiosk is located on the 1st level of Crown Center shops, across from the Pen Shop in the hallway near the Westin Hotel. Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 12 - 6 pm; Friday and Saturday, 12 - 9 pm.
4. Arrive early. All seating is general admission. And some of the 20 venues in midtown and downtown Kansas City, Missouri have limited seating and/or limited street parking. Doors open 20 minutes before a show and most start on time. The KC Fringe Fest website also states, "No late entry to shows (no exceptions)."
- Where to park downtown? The Downtown Council created this map highlighting available garage and surface lot parking.
5. Sample a preview. You won't be able to see everything. But, if you can't decide or just want to get a taste of KC Fringe, consider attending the opening night performance preview hosted by the Kansas City Repertory Theatre on Thursday, July 19, 6:30 pm - 10:30 pm at the Spencer Theatre at the James C. Olson Performing Arts Center (PAC), 4949 Cherry Street, Kansas City, Mo. Artists provide 3-minute, mini-presentations of festival performances. It's free, and open to the public.
6. Get outside your comfort zone. "Some practical tips: plan your schedule and get tickets early, wear comfy shoes, stay hydrated, and prepare to leave your comfort zone behind," said arts writer Adrianne Russell, a longtime KC Fringe volunteer. This year Russell's also running the KC Fringe twitter feed.
"I think people should expect to be challenged and engaged and have fun. For me, Fringe is all about access and inclusion and the celebration of artistic practice and creativity," said Russell. "It's a chance to see amazing, innovative work. We're very fortunate to have such a diverse range of performers and venues and so much community support."