Jonathan Harris, one of three founding artistic directors of the New York International Fringe Festival, has been informed that he would not be invited back for the 1998 festival.
According to a statement released by Harris: "They didn't even give me a reason...There are far too many cooks in that particular kitchen anyway, but I think the real reason they decided to exclude me is because of my vocal opposition to the supposed adjudication process".
The controversy stems in the format of the New York Fringe Festival, which unlike other Fringe festivals selects participants based on an adjudication process (as opposed to a "first come, first serve" policy).
Harris claims that this process was "tainted" when after the selection were made, not enough of New York's Downtown scene was represented. Therefore, the festival went from "100 artistically screened productions to 165 participating companies".
Co-Artistic Director of the festival, John Clancy released a statement (Jan 9) to PBOL saying, "Although we disagree with Jonathan's assessment of the adjudication process, we are grateful to him for the valuable part he played in helping to create the festival. We learned in running the festival that the job demands someone who lives in New York." Harris had moved from New York to Los Angeles during the summer months before the festival was underway.
When contacted about the dismissal, Ron Lasko, spokesman for the festival, commented, "Jonathan Harris will forever remain in the history of the New York Fringe Festival, as one of the co-founders".
The First Annual New York Fringe Festival was launched in the summer of 1997, founded by Co-Artistic Directors: Harris, Aaron Beall (Artistic Director of New York's Todo con Nada), John Clancy (Artistic Director of New York's Present Theatre Company). The festival's founders were awarded the 1997 New York Magazine Award for their "creativity, enterprise and vision" in producing the ambitious festival.
-- By Sean McGrath