Today is the last day to apply for the Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals lottery, which is like a meta-lottery for all of the Fringe Festivals in Canada and the US. If you’re one of the five Canadians or five internationals to get drawn, you automatically get into as many festivals as you’d like to perform at in 2013 (as long as you pick at least five). It’s also only open to artists who’ve participated in at least one Fringe Festival before.
I’ve submitted every year since 2008 and been drawn twice, which is really, not as insane odds as you might think. I know of a few other repeat offenders.
Touring the Fringe Circuit can be an incredibly rewarding experience, personally, artistically, and, yes, financially. And getting the CAFF lottery helps make the tour financially viable by allowing you to stitch together a linear, non-stop schedule, and allowing you to book off as many festivals as you think you can participate in. After all, the more festivals you do, the more income you can generate to offset your start-up costs: props, rehearsal time/space, honoraria, press photos, and even your bulk printing costs. Obviously, other costs go up with more festivals: the up front application fees, travel, time away from work, salaries, etc.
I’ve already decided that after doing nine Fringes in 2012 (ten if you count my appearance in Paul Hutcheson’s Canuck Cabaret at the Frigid New York Festival), that I want to take 2013 off from touring, largely so I can spend the year rebuilding my networks and brand in Toronto. But a big part of that strategy is going to involve premiering a new show at the Toronto Fringe (for what it’s worth, no, I haven’t yet decided if it’s going to be a brand new show, or if I’ll bring to Toronto the show I workshopped in Victoria/Vancouver this year. That largely depends on the outcome of a few investigations I’m working on).
I will say that the CAFF Lottery significantly increases your odds of participating in the Toronto Fringe — not only because it’s simply five more slots in the festival that are up for grabs, but because the CAFF Lottery has significantly better odds than the Toronto Fringe lottery does.
My strategy for now is to submit to the CAFF Lottery and see what happens. If I get drawn, I will likely participate in some of the nearby, easy-commute festivals, like Ottawa, while I produce and/or direct another show (possibly one of mine) to send on to the western Fringes.
So go ahead, submit to the CAFF Lottery. See you in the field.