Local Art

Published on June 23rd, 2014 | by TLV News


Inaugural Oxford Fringe Festival: August 1-2, 2014

New Festival Provides Performance Space: The Art-er Limits

On August 1 – 2, 2014 Oxford, Mississippi will open its doors, theaters, and less traditional spaces to its first ever Fringe Festival. The Art-er Limit: Oxford’s Fringe Festival is being coordinated by the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council with support from the arts organizations throughout the community. “This event mixes visual and performing arts creating a unique festival,” shared Wayne Andrews, Director of the Arts Council. The festival is based on fringe events around the world which transform nontraditional spaces into arts spaces. “Oxford has plenty of spaces that can serve as exhibit, workshop, and performance space. A festival of this nature that focuses on providing artists a chance to connect with an audience is perfect for Oxford,” added Andrews.

FringeFestival PosterThe festival organizers have been working with business owners to define performances spaces. Artists can sign up to perform at a space. Instead of booking acts and negotiating prices, the organizers seek to turn the festival business model upside down and inside out just like the nature of the festival. “The application process does not cost but is designed to encourage artists to think about the program they want to perform,” added Andrews. The organizers are encouraging musicians, performing arts groups, and visual artists to think about using this festival to engage an audience in new ways. Instead of presenting a big concert or a full theatrical production the festival is about  intimate performances that focus on the artists. The artists propose the type of show, space, and price for tickets.  

*Note 7/7: YAC Director Wayne Andrews says all spaces are filled – now for the planning and promotion!

“The festival really is what local artists make it,” shared Andrews. “Musicians can propose a songwriters showcase, or a jam session, while performing artists can create one-man shows, improv plays, or mini dance concerts.” The artists receive the majority of the proceeds from the ticket sales with just 25% going to the venue to provide support staff to host the event. Venues can also add their line up to the festival. If a local venue wants to select their own bands or invite in an artist this can be included on the festival schedule. In addition to ticketed events the festival will feature booths for artists to setup pop up shops featuring everything from visual arts, crafts, or merchandise.

When organizers developed the concept behind this festival they wanted to use the strengths of the community. Locals and visitors enjoy walking the historic Square, dining in the great restaurants, and the region has a wide variety of artists. Working with spaces such as The University Museum, The Lyric, The Powerhouse, Cicada, Round Table, Southside Art Gallery, and the Courthouse lawn, organizers defined indoor and outdoor festival spaces. The event will have outdoor vendors that will encourage attendees to stroll between the art zones with indoor performance spaces that will invite attendees into local businesses and cultural spaces. Artist can propose a music showcase featuring songwriters in the round for a space such as Southside or as Theatre Oxford has planned a two-person one-act show.

The festival has secured several key artists with links to Oxford. On the visual side several artists from the television show Robot Chicken will be exhibiting and presenting demonstrations at the festival,  nationally recognized slam poet Lacey Roop from Tupelo will lead an open mic event and host a one woman show, and local restaurants can be part of the event by hosting tastings events. Festival organizers wanted to encourage visitors to explore the local restaurants and created the tasting event idea as a way to ensure to make the local restaurants part of the festival experience. The Tasting Event option allows restaurants to create themed events that highlight their menu, chef, or bar staff. The events would be at a set time at the restaurant and could be limited to a set number of guests at a dedicated table or in a party room. Festival attendees would pre order a tasting event just as they would a concert ticket or performance ticket so they would know what the tasting event involved, where to go, and the restaurants would know how many attendees to expect.

Seed funding for the festival was provided by Blake Tartt III’s New Regional Planning and Cathead Vodka. These two key supporters challenge the Arts Council to create an event that would both highlight the regional artists and demonstrate the economic impact of the arts on the community. The Art-er Limits concept places performances in local businesses, has a culinary element that occurs in local restaurants, and taps into the depth of talent in the region. Visit Oxford and the Mississippi Development Authority are providing support to market the festival around the Mid-South as this unique event provides a unique overnight getaway.

Artists and restaurants that would like to learn more about the festival can contact the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council or review the application at www.oxfordfringefest.com.

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About the Author

The Local Voice is a bimonthly entertainment guide and newspaper based in Oxford, Mississippi, covering and distributed in North Central Mississippi, including Oxford, Ole Miss, Taylor, Abbeville, Water Valley, Lafayette County, Yalobusha County, and parts of Panola County, Marshall County, and Tupelo . The Local Voice is distributed free to over 255 locations in North Mississippi and also available as a full color PDF download worldwide on the internet.

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