Launch Of The London Festival Fringe

By Lindsey Last edited 168 months ago

Last Updated 07 July 2010

Launch Of The London Festival Fringe

Street theatre by Orhan Tsolak. Not part of the London Festival Fringe.
We went along to last night's press launch of the London Festival Fringe with an open mind. We would have been delighted to hear how the umbrella of the London Fringe would be supporting and promoting the excellent London-wide fringe arts scene and learn what would be going on where, during their August festival.

But we left not much the wiser and not a bit more convinced it's a good idea.

The London Festival Fringe acknowledges London as the art capital of the world and yet doesn't seem in a position to reward or promote quality. The presentation in St Paul's Church, Covent Garden last night featured a baffling line up fronted by two comedians who could barely get a sentence out between them, some Hanky-Panky musical theatre, a stage-shy theatre producer, a belly dancing troupe that smacked of Britain's Got Talent's early rounds and a piano player who struggled with chords. We loved the Rigoletto aria performed by Stephen A Brown but it was too little too late to save the evening.

Awards form the bedrock of the endeavour with 10 categories covering fringe arts in the widest sense: from new poetry to jazz vocalists, from short fiction to art - as well as best play, new comedy and new theatre writing. Some of these have expert panels and cash prizes, but most are popular votes via the website (hardly a guarantee of quality for a 'best' anything).

Two fringe hubs have been established to enable performers, producers and other industry people to network, with the support of the fabulous Phoenix Artist Club and we can see how the website which enables central browsing and booking of fringe productions happening throughout the year, across the city could be helpful. But the website isn't terribly user friendly, attractive or helpful for punters and we longed to have a festival programme in our hands to leaf through so we could easily find out who was involved.

The London fringe scene is mostly brilliant, full of energy, creativity and determination and we're enthusiastic supporters of it. Fringe arts deserve a higher profile on the London arts scene but so far - despite the enthusiasm of the performers - it doesn't look like the London Festival Fringe is going to do it many favours.

Do you love or are you involved in fringe arts? Let us know what you think. And let us know what you're performing or presenting and where by emailing [email protected].