An Update for Artists About 2021 Planning

14 January 2021

It’s the new year and we’re all looking forward. Our inboxes are full of questions about plans for September. We’ve compiled an FAQ below for enquiring minds, giving you the relevant dates for your diary and insight into the practicalities of how we’re planning for the year ahead given the ongoing uncertainty caused by the pandemic.

This isn’t the creative klaxon you might have been expecting from Fringe this week. That will come later with our curatorial call out (more on that below). This is a guide to the practical framework we have to work within at the moment due to COVID-19. We hope that by laying out the parameters early, we can clear the path for your big ideas.

We acknowledge that making art in a pandemic is WILD. We will be as adaptable and flexible as possible and we invite artists to work with us in that spirit. We’ll make the journey together.

Is Dublin Fringe Festival happening this year?
Yep! We are making a festival and we’re dead excited about it. We’ll launch our annual open call for applications on February 1. Applications will close on March 11. The festival dates are in the diary, running for 16 days and nights from September 11–26.

Will the festival be remote or in real life?
We’re staying committed to embodied, live performance, back in beloved Dublin venues. Our Pilot Light Edition of the festival in 2020 brought audiences and artists back together safely in person, and we’re planning to do the same this September. There will be spotlights, opening nights and chances for people to see your whole outfit, not just the top half.

The last 10 months have seen the birth of new forms and styles of remote art experiences; born digital, on the airwaves, in the post, and whatever you’re having yourself. At Fringe, innovation is in our DNA – we truly love to see it and will continue to champion that spirit of invention and accessibility as these dynamic, intimate new artforms evolve, surprise us and find new ways to reach us.

We will be accepting applications for both live in-person events, and remote art projects that play with form and encourage active spectatorship across artistic disciplines.

Will things go back to ‘Fringe as usual’ this September?
Like all of you, we don’t know yet know what the rest of the year will look like due to the ongoing impact of the global pandemic and lack of certainty at this time about what will be possible in Ireland in the Autumn. We’re planning for a festival made in a socially distanced world, in order to offer artists as much certainty as possible about the road ahead for their work.

From experience, having delivered a festival in a pandemic, we’ve learnt that it’s crucial to stay nimble and plan with agility. If the guidelines change for the better over the summer, we can welcome larger audiences in venues. If the fates allow, we’ll happily bring back packed foyers, glitter drenched dancefloors and post-show debates over a pizza slice in DiFontaines. For now, we’re setting parameters to enable artists to plan with resilience.  

What does that mean for festival programming?
Our open call for applications will ask for proposals that can be realised and performed within the current Level 2 restrictions as set out within the government’s Resilience and Recovery 2020 -2021: Plan for Living with COVID-19.

Living with Covid-19 Restrictions
Level 2 Restrictions on Indoor & Outdoor Events

Producing a festival within the above parameters means more resources and staff are needed to make things safe for both artists and audiences. As a result, this year's festival will have a smaller programme than in many festivals past. This will ensure every show and venue we programme can be fully safe and adequately resourced.

Can I talk to you about my idea before I make an application?
Yes – talking to artists about their ideas is our favourite thing! Get in touch with Ciara, our FRINGE LAB and Artistic Assistant, to set up a meeting with the team. These meetings are a great chance to talk through your project, your plans and your collaborators and to ask any burning questions ahead of making an application.

Will the application process be different?
Yes and no. See below for the application breakdown.

Curatorial Information: The curatorial call out will go live on February 1, when applications open – we hope to inspire you to dream big, as always. You will be able read about our new curatorial remit for remote art experiences in the application guide.

Application Guide: We have updated our application guide and templates to give applicants the support they need for the new circumstances. You’ll find up to the minute information on possible venues, the financial deal, as well as a guide to what we’ll need from you in terms of planning to make work safely in the midst of the ongoing pandemic (e.g. size of your team, dressing room requirements, a proposed COVID-19 Lead Worker Representative, etc.)

Application Form: We acknowledge and hugely appreciate all the time and effort that goes in to application writing. We make sure we don’t have any unnecessary questions in our forms. Every piece of information helps us make informed decisions and identify the supports projects will need if programmed.

Can Fringe help us get to grips with new rules around making work safely for the festival?
Help is at hand! We’ve done this before, so if you have a question we may well have figured out the answer during last year’s festival.

No doubt you will already have made yourself aware, but if you are planning to rehearse, develop or create a live performance this year, at Fringe or elsewhere, you should familiarise yourself with these excellent safe working practices guides: 
Theatre Forum’s guidelines for 1) Creating Work and 2) Reopening Arts Centres.
The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment’s Work Safely Protocol.

But Fringe, everything is awful and the world is mad - I can’t even think about making a show right now.
Yes, it is! Choosing to take a pause is entirely reasonable given the circumstances. Some projects need less restricted working conditions than 2021 can offer, and not everyone can be creative in a time of crisis. Look after yourself and look after the work in whatever way best suits you.

Your artistry isn’t defined by output, your practice has value on its own, and so do you. If this isn’t the right time for you, mind yourself and let’s talk 2022 when you’re ready.

Can I still connect with Dublin Fringe Festival if I don’t feel ready make a show this year?
Definitely. In addition to producing a festival, we are a year-round artist support organisation. We are here to provide practical and artistic support. Now is a good time for research, skill-development, editing, writing, composing, coaching, mentorship. Through FRINGE LAB programme activity and workspaces (available free-of-charge for the development of new work), we can support your practice wherever you are at in your process.

Keep in mind the open access supports that Fringe offers: 

  • FRINGE LAB annual programme: check out our open access FRINGE LAB programme of events and workshops, they can be a great way to meet other artists and the Fringe Team. We will be announcing up-coming events this month. To keep track you can pop over to our website, sign up to our FRINGE LAB mailing list and join the Facebook group for info on upcoming events and various artist opportunities  
  • Studio space: we provide free studio space for the development of new work from October – June.  (The building is currently closed in line with Level 5 regulations. We will be coordinating our reopening in relation to HSE and government guidelines, with artist safety top of mind at each step. Keep an eye on our website and socials for further information around the reopening of the building.) 
  • Elevenses: on the last Friday of each month we host Elevenses (currently via Zoom) – an informal drop-in coffee morning at 11am. This is a great chance to meet other makers and members of the Fringe team. The next Elevenses is Friday, January 29 – come and say hello! Make sure you're signed up to us for details.
  • Artist Meetings: Dublin Fringe has an open-door policy. The Artistic team are currently meeting artists to hear about what you’ve been dreaming and scheming. Get in touch with Ciara to set up a meeting. 

What do I do if I have more questions?
We’ll open applications with a bang on February 1. Our lovingly made, carefully compiled PDF application guide full of more details will be available then.

In the meantime, look after yourself, be gentle with each other and stay safe.