Our Commitment to Anti-Racism
We at Minnesota Fringe understand that systemic racism, white privilege, and white supremacy exist. Racism is insidious, complex, and dehumanizing to all it touches.2 It is intrinsically tied to the development of our country, our society, and our art. Our beloved Twin Cities remain in a state of social unrest as our community navigates the aftermath of George Floyd's murder (and Philando’s, and Jamar’s, and Breonna’s, and Ahmaud’s, and…). Deep systemic inequities, marginalization, and oppression exist in all aspects of our lives. American Theater as a whole, the Fringe movement, and Minnesota Fringe are not immune to those inequities.
We believe that Black Matters.
Black Lives Matter.
Black Artists Matter.
Black Voices Matter.
Black Community Matters.
Our mission is to connect adventurous artists with adventurous audiences by creating open, supportive forums for free and diverse artistic expression. We are proud to be a platform in which first time producers and seasoned artists can mingle on our stages. Over the years, we have made efforts to ensure that Minnesota Fringe is an equitable, diverse, and non-discriminatory space, but we have fallen short. We recognize that we have not done enough to make our programming welcoming and inclusive for BIPOC, Latinx, LGBTQ+ and other marginalized artists, volunteers, and audiences. We see the historical lack of racial diversity on our staff and board and commit ourselves to greater diversity. We also understand that diversity needs to be more than tokenism. We need to actively work to make inclusion and diversity a priority. We cannot just sit back and wait for a diverse population to find us.4
We recognize that Minnesota Fringe has upheld characteristics of white supremacy culture in the creation of our policies, procedures, and organizational culture. We recognize that regardless of our intentions, the impact of our actions, non-actions, and ignorance has been harmful to the incredibly diverse community of BIPOC, Latinx, and LGBTQ+ artists here in Minnesota. We aim to change that.
We encourage you, our community, to join us in the fight against injustice and racism. Undoing systemic inequities will take all of us. It means having uncomfortable conversations, it means taking action, it means educating ourselves. The good news is that we are in this together. Let us not miss this opportunity to make our community and our home a more just and equitable place.3
We are listening, we are learning.
Next steps for Minnesota Fringe
Using We See You W.A.T. and the Characteristics of White Supremacy Culture as guides, we are first engaging in an internal equity audit of our organization.
During this time of reflection, refocusing, and recalibration post-Festival, we will:
- Review and revise hiring processes to ensure equitable hiring practices;
- Always disclose salary information in job postings to decrease the gender and racial wage gaps that permeate due to income cloaking;
- Actively seek out BIPOC, Latinx, and LGBTQIA+ folks to fill at least half of our current open board positions, and other positions that become available within our organization;
- Analyze our internal processes and procedures to determine which are inequitable and work to restructure those policies;
- Analyze and change the customer experience and the ticketing and box office process to ensure it is equitable and inclusive for all;
- Scrutinize and change Festival procedures to ensure artists of color are being actively engaged, subsidized, supported, and provided equitable opportunity1;
- Develop ways to expand our Festival Artist Grant program to ensure more artists with limited income can participate in our Festival;
- Update our application process and the lottery so that is inclusive and equitable, discuss the option of adding an Equity Lottery;
- Connect with organizations and community groups in the spaces in which we operate our festival to get free/discounted tickets into the hands of the people who reside there in order to expand our audience base and build community;
- Update staff & volunteer training/onboarding to include education and resources about systemic racism and equitable practices;
- Add land acknowledgements to our programs and pre-show announcements;
- Seek out funding to hire an external equity audit of our organization;
- When we are able to compensate BIPOC, Latinx, and LGBTQIA+ artists; we will collaborate with them on our internal audit findings and work with them to continue to transform Minnesota Fringe into a diverse, inclusive, and equitable community.
- Continue dedicating time, resources, and space to brave community conversations regarding dismantling oppressive systems upheld by white creatives; 1
We extend an open invitation to artists, audience, and community members to share with us their experiences at our Festival and with our organization. 4Share with us here.
This commitment is not a solution. It is a first step towards a better future for us all. It is our commitment to our community that we will step up and listen and do better.1 We will post updates on our progress on this page.
This statement is inspired by, and sections of it are borrowed from, the anti-racism statements of:
Update as of December 1, 2022:
Today we launched artist applications for the 2023 Minnesota Fringe Festival. In the ticket payout model for this year, artists will never receive less than $7 for any ticket sold; a 43% increase from the lowest ticket payout from 2022, which was $4.90.
We also believe that adventurous art should be affordable, which is a difficult thing to balance while running a business in the current arts and economic landscape. However, we are excited to announce that the price of online tickets will not increase in 2023 ($18); and the cost of the 2023 Fringe Button will also remain the same price of $5. We will continue to offer a variety of discounted passes.
We are also giving an average of 15% raise to the majority of seasonal staff positions as the next step in our long term goal of equitable pay for all. In response to low volunteer turn-out, our understanding that volunteering one’s time is not something that everyone has the ability to do, and to alleviate some of the stress for our Festival staff, we are also expanding our seasonal staff team next year. Some volunteer roles of the past will be converted into paid seasonal staff positions.
As we wrap up this year and turn our sights towards 2023, we would like to report on our goal of “actively seek out BIPOC, Latinx, and LGBTQIA+ folx to fill open board positions, and other positions that become available within our organization”. Our Board of Directors includes 25% BIPOC members and 12% LGBTQIA+ members. Our year-round team now includes 40% BIPOC staff members, and our 2022 seasonal staff included over 25% BIPOC and 35% LGBTQIA+ folks.
Diverse voices in positions of leadership result in a more diverse community of artists, staff, patrons, and we are continuing to find new ways to involve and elevate marginalized voices in our organization.
Update as of November 15, 2022:
Our 2022 Festival Equity Lottery was a great success that we will continue in the future to ensure artists of color are being actively engaged, supported, and provided equitable opportunities. There were 19 artists who applied to the Equity Lottery, 12 of whom were selected to participate in the 2022 Festival. Based on data self-reported by producers (which may not be comprehensive), out of the 113 shows in the Festival, 40 productions included LGBTQIA+ artists, 25 productions included BIPOC+ artists, and 8 productions included artists with disabilities. We are retaining this access vehicle in 2023, but are renaming it the BIPOC Lottery to provide greater clarity around service intentions. This opportunity will once again be coupled with the Touring Artist Initiative intended to bring fresh perspectives from greater Minnesota and beyond our borders, to comprise a minimum of 20% of festival participants
We will continue offering producer funding opportunities, such as the Festival Artist Grants for up to 5 producers to participate in the festival without paying producer fees and Fee Deferments for select artists to have their producer fee taken out of their gross earnings. Between the two programs a minimum of 10% of producers will not be required to pay fees in advance to participate.
We believe theater should be affordable and accessible to all. In planning for our 30th anniversary festival, we are committed to capping our price increases to 17% or less for producer fees and ticketing, even though venue rentals and production costs throughout the sector and other Festival expenses have raised more than 25%.
Our last update is that Minnesota Fringe, together with members of the Association of Performing Arts Service Organizations across the United States and Canada, has signed a statement of support and solidarity for Nataki Garrett, Artistic Director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Read more about this here.
Update as of November 1, 2021:Minnesota Fringe is excited to announce the addition of the Equity Lottery to the Fringe Festival application process as part of our effort to ensure artists of color are being actively engaged, subsidized, supported, and provided equitable opportunities. BIPOC producers, writers, directors, and choreographers are encouraged to apply to the Equity Lottery for a chance to be one of the first 10% of Festival participants chosen. Artists not selected from this lottery will have a second chance to to be chosen from the full lottery. Applications in this category are pay-what-you-can.
Additionally, thanks to the generous support of artists and community members, Minnesota Fringe is expanding the Festival Artist Grant program in 2022 to offer up to 5 producers the ability to participate in the festival without paying any producer fees.
Update as of April 15, 2021:
We want to take this moment to amplify the well-crafted message from McKnight Foundation reflecting on yet another death of a black man in Minnesota at the hands of police; one of 260 police killings that have occurred in our country in the first three and a half months of 2021 (ACLU). We, too, hold the pain, feel the trauma, and experience the anger. We are also ready to do the work to create a more equitable and just world.
Update as of April 1, 2021:
Minnesota Fringe welcomes three new seasonal staff members and five new members of the Board of Directors in April, including members of BIPOC, AAPI, and LGBTQ+ communities to ensure diverse voices and experience are represented in leadership positions.
Update as of March 22, 2021:
We want to take this moment to amplify the response from Theater Mu regarding the recent murders and hate crimes in Atlanta. The leaders at Theater Mu have done some amazing work crafting this message with practical ways we can all take action to undo white supremacy and to support the Asian American/Pacific Islander community, and we thank them for this. We stand by our Asian American/Pacific Islander colleagues, collaborators, and artists and we share in the grief, anger, and despair felt by so many.
Please take a few minutes to pause, reflect, read, and take action: Theater Mu's Response to the Atlanta Shooting
Update as of February 1, 2021:
Minnesota Fringe just finished administering the Theater Emergency Relief Fund to Theater and Dance Tech & Design Professionals in Minnesota. We committed to awarding at least 10% of those funds to a historically marginalized community, but were able to disperse 45% of those gifts to artists who identified as BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and/or as a person with a disability.
The Board of Directors has several open member positions at the moment. We are seeking out individuals who represent different identities than those we currently have in leadership. One small step towards this goal has been posting our open positions on twice as many websites in order to get a wider range of visibility.
Seasonal positions for the summer Festival have also been posted. Application language and hiring practices were reviewed and updated prior to posting to ensure an equal playing field for all. Instead of only posting these positions on the Minnesota Fringe website and the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, we expanded our posting visibility to include Handshake (which goes out to numerous local colleges and universities) and Springboard for the Arts.