NEPA Scene Staff

2020 Scranton Fringe Festival canceled, new social distancing program planned for Sept. 25-27

2020 Scranton Fringe Festival canceled, new social distancing program planned for Sept. 25-27
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From a press release:

After an extensive period of careful review, the Scranton Fringe Festival organization has officially announced the cancellation of the 2020 festival as a direct result of the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis.

This fringe fest would have been the sixth annual celebration of the performing arts, held across 11 days and hosted in a dozen venues in downtown Scranton.

“Scranton Fringe has delayed making this decision with the hope that the situation would change by the fall, but at this time we cannot proceed with the festival that normally brings thousands of people into the downtown area,” said Conor Kelly O’Brien, Scranton Fringe co-founder and executive director.

More than 50 acts were hoping to participate in the festival, scheduled from Sept. 25 through Oct. 4. Those performers are encouraged to apply in the future, when large gatherings are once again possible.

Scranton Fringe, a nonprofit organization, has focused its’ efforts in the past few months on supporting their community of artists, launching an emergency fund that has so far distributed over $8,000 worth of mini-grants to Northeastern Pennsylvanian artists and creative gig workers who have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Our community has been patient with us as we have tried to plan new safety measures for our artists, volunteers, and audience members,” added Elizabeth Bohan, Scranton Fringe co-founder and managing director.

“As devastating as it is to cancel the festival, we are creating and developing a new program for the fall which hopefully makes social distancing a part of the process instead of an inconvenience added to previous plans.”

More details will be released soon regarding the new project, which will be scheduled for what would have been the first weekend of the Scranton Fringe Festival, Sept. 25-27.

Since 2015, the annual Scranton Fringe Festival has presented hundreds of creative works to over 10,000 unique audience members and helped generate over $250,000 each year in the local economy.

The majority of the festival’s programming (100+ performances each year) is chosen from an open application that invites artists and creatives from across the globe to submit. Theatre, dance, music, puppetry, children’s arts, improv, and many other genres of work have been presented over the past five years.

Noteworthy programs helmed by the Scranton Fringe include the Big Gay StorySlam, which toured to the Soho Playhouse in New York City and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland in 2019; the Scranton StorySlam series, which has found a home at the Scranton Cultural Center at the Masonic Temple for the past few years; and the Teen Playwright and Visual Art Workshops in partnership with the Everhart Museum in Scranton.

Recently, the pre-recorded performances showcased in the festival’s online-based Social Distant-Scene Theatre initiative have helped audience members access theatre from home while providing income for the fringe community of artists during this difficult time.

Watch Episode 132 of the NEPA Scene Podcast, a coronavirus shutdown panel discussion recorded at the onset of the pandemic in the area with Conor Kelly O’Brien, F.M. Kirby Center Artistic Director Anne Rodella, and Wilkes-Barre singer/songwriter Dustin Douglas, below:

Photo by Rich Howells/NEPA Scene