Pay to Play: Financing Your Fringe Festival Tour (Part 1)!

I recently was lucky enough to be selected to participate in several upcoming fringe festivals with my solo show, The F Words.

51E016D0-3831-41F3-A737-4261A0764755For those of you interested in the possibilities of doing your own show, let me unpack the process for you.

A SPLASH OF CASH                                                                                                                          The first thing you need to know, is that every application will cost you money.

If you want to actually tour your show to multiple fringe festivals, then the first application you will want to do is for the CAFF (Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals). This is because, if you are selected for the CAFF then you get your pick of fringes and your tour is basically set as you will have an official festival venue in a minimum of five festivals. You can choose as many festivals as you can afford so in effect you could tour for months if you had the finances.

CAFF – $25             I wasn’t successful in the CAFF lottery draw so then I had to pay for each festival lottery draw separately.  I opted to start in WInnipeg and work my way home, so this is a list of the application fees I paid:

Regina – $25                                                                                                                          Winnipeg – $25                                                                                                                         Edmonton – $40                                                                                                                       Calgary – $35                                                                                                                       Vancouver – $50

I paid a total of $200 just to have the chance of being drawn in the lotteries.

Once the lotteries happen you have to pay the festival fees.


Regina – $575                                                                                                                      Winnipeg – $750                                                                                                             Edmonton – $725                                                                                                                Calgary – $700                                                                                                                Vancouver – $750

pexels-photo-462368.jpegI did not get a spot in all the festivals, I won lottery spots for the Regina, Winnipeg and Vancouver fringes so my next outlay of cash was $2000 bringing my grand total to $2200 so far.  While you may initially pay these fees with your credit card, ideally you want to have the cash saved to pay this off because the interest will be considerable.

I contemplated filling in my “tour” by doing BYOV in Edmonton and Calgary but the fees for a BYOV are considerably more so my budget would not allow for it this year.  I did a BYOV in Vancouver in 2016 and it was very difficult to get people to the venue.  Once the lotteries are completed, you have to pay the registration fee to secure your spot in each festival, so even though I won’t be performing until the summer and fall of 2018, I had to pay all of these fees in December of 2017.

Doing a fringe festival show can be exciting and challenging at the same time.  Since I chose to write and perform a solo show, the financial burden falls to me.  Of course, if my show does well, I will also reap the benefits.

In my next blog post, I will tackle the actual production costs for a fringe festival show based on my 2016 tour.  Please subscribe if you would like to follow this series of posts.  Also, I’d love to hear your comments on this post and as always, thanks for reading!







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