The New York Fringe Festival has announced that it is taking 2017 off.
The midsummer festival, which has provided stages for more than 3,600 offbeat, experimental and/or aspiring plays and musicals in its two decades of existence, will take a sabbatical next year; Shelley Burch, president of the board of the Present Company, which produces the festival, broke the news to The New York Times.
The Fringe's producing artistic director Elena K. Holy said she needs time “to completely reconsider what the festival needs to be.”
In all those years only one of FringeNYC’s hundreds of productions achieved real prominence—the musical Urinetown, which transferred to Broadway in 2001 and won Tony Awards for Best Book and Best Score.
This year’s FringeNYC Overall Excellence Awards went to Pucker Up and Blow, The Radicalization of Rolfe and Black Magic for Best Overall Play; and Mother Emanuel for Best Overall Musical.
The Times observed, ”it hasn’t been as much of a launching pad for emerging artists as the Edinburgh Festival Fringe,” adding that “some critics have grumbled about a surfeit of substandard shows.”
“It really is a blank canvas,” Holy was quoted saying as she begins the process of overhauling the festival, right down to the time of year it is presented and its relationship with the individual producers of the constituent shows. “Should it be bigger? Should it be smaller? Should it be find-your-own-venue? Should it be a particular genre? Everything is game.”
However, Burch reassured, “This is not the end.”
For fans of summertime festivals, New York offers no shortage. FringeNYC may be on vacation in 2017, but the city offers the New York Musical Theatre Festival, the Midtown International Theatre Festival, the River to River Festival, the Lincoln Center Festival, the Next Wave Festival and others that may pick up any slack.