Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals
The Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals (CAFF) is an international body that promotes and safeguards the ideals and principles of fringe theatre in North America.
The 1982 Edmonton International Fringe Festival, modelled after the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, was the first successful instance of Fringe theatre in North America. Based on its success, an informal network of other Canadian and American Fringe festivals arose. Concerned about the growth of festivals that might claim the "Fringe" title without being aligned with the original spirit of Fringe Theatre, festival directors from this network founded the Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals in 1990. The organization was incorporated as a non-profit in 1994. In 1998, CAFF successfully trademarked the terms "Fringe" and "Fringe Festival" in Canada to ensure that any theatre festival wishing to refer to itself as a "Fringe" would agree to abide by both CAFF's guiding principles and the CAFF mandate.
Principles and Mandate
At the time of its formation, CAFF defined four minimum guiding principles for Fringe Festivals:
- Participants will be selected on a non-juried basis, through a first-come, first served process, a lottery, or other method approved by the Association
- In order to ensure Criteria One (above), the audiences must have the option to pay a ticket price, 100% of which goes directly to the artists.
- Fringe Festival producers have no control over the artistic content of each performance. The artistic freedom of the participants is unrestrained.
- Festivals must provide an easily accessible opportunity for all audiences and all artists to participate in Fringe Festivals.
The mandate of CAFF is as follows:
- To safeguard the integrity of Fringe Festivals as outlined in the four minimum criteria
- To recognize that the health of all member Festivals is important to the Circuit and therefore the artists' health as a whole
- To encourage communication and cooperation between member Festivals thereby fostering the continuity of our guiding principles
List of member festivals
As of December 2013, CAFF consisted of 23 festivals from across North America.
- FRIGID New York
- Orlando International Fringe Theater Festival
- London Fringe Theatre Festival (Ontario)
- St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival
- Alberni Valley Fringe Festival
- Ottawa Fringe Festival
- Regina International Fringe Festival
- Toronto Fringe Festival
- San Diego International Fringe Festival
- Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival
- Hamilton Fringe Festival
- Saskatoon Fringe Theatre Festival
- Calgary Fringe Festival
- Fundy Fringe Festival
- Edmonton International Fringe Festival
- Nanaimo Fringe Festival
- Indianapolis Theatre Fringe Festival
- Island Fringe Festival
- Victoria Fringe Theatre Festival
- Atlantic Fringe Festival
- San Francisco Fringe Festival
- Vancouver Fringe Festival
- Boulder International Fringe Festival
While individual festivals are mostly programmed independently, CAFF reserves spots in each member festival's lineup for the winners of its annual touring lottery. Winning artists are permitted to enter any of the festivals instead of going through each individual festival's lottery process.