The Cincinnati Fringe Festival Undergoes A Temporary Makeover For 2020


Forget Christmas. Usually, this is the most wonderful time of the year at the Know Theatre of Cincinnati: when the whole staff pulls together to work round-the-clock to bring Cincinnati its favorite arts and community event, the Cincinnati Fringe Festival. The annual two-week-long celebration of theatre, music, dance, and art is chock-a-block with artistic works you won’t find anywhere else and a deep sense of community, and it’s one of the highlights of the Know’s year.


May and June (or, as we call it, “the Fringemas season”) is shaping up to be a sub-optimal time to bring huge groups of people all together, but the spirit of Fringe is too beloved and too special to keep on the shelf for all of 2020. So the Know Team got together and did what we do best: we got creative, resourceful, and just a little off-the-wall.

When the smoke cleared and the fire alarms were reset, we were left with this: an all-digital, totally online, 100% at-a-safe-distance, for-2020-only Cincinnati Fringe Festival. Audiences will be able to enjoy the kinds of joyful, out-of-the-box, deeply personal, and sometimes just plain weird content they’ve come to expect from Cincy Fringe, all from the comfort and safety of their own homes. This year’s Fringe will be crammed to the brim with streaming performances, online art galleries, and digital meet-ups, and audiences will be able to access all content from their own home computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Is this a weird way to run a Fringe festival? You bet. But that’s Cincy Fringe: Kinda Weird. Like You. And let’s be real – this is a weird time, with weird needs. Fortunately, the Know Team is full of the scrappiest, most inventive, weirdest people you’ll ever meet, so let’s get weird.

The scheduled opening night for the Cincinnati Fringe Festival is May 29, which is still two whole months away. The Know Team is monitoring all recommendations about distancing and health, and working collaboratively with the Fringe artistic community to devise content that is high-quality and as safe for artists to create as it will be for audiences to enjoy.

Because one of the best parts of Fringe is the sense of community that arises between audiences, staff, and artists, the Know Team is creating ways for people to connect at a distance. Audiences will still be able to vote for Pick of the Fringe awards, via online polls instead of paper ballots, and Fringe-hosted digital hangouts and streaming segments will replace the nightly Bar Series events.

Cincy Fringe had scheduled its lineup announcement party for April 27. While a physical gathering is no longer possible, stay tuned for a lineup announcement, information on ticketing packages and pricing, and further details on 2020’s all-online Fringe Festival to come in the final week of April.

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