When Capital Fringe, the sweaty annual celebration of edgy and experimental theater, announced that this summer’s festival would run July 7 to 24, there was one noteworthy bit of news tucked in: The price of tickets for the now 6-year-old fest is going up for the first time.
Tickets will now cost $17, and the admission button required for entry will cost $7.
Though each production in the unjuried festival is self-produced, Capital Fringe had maintained a $15 ticket price since it launched in the summer of 2006. It began requiring a one-time purchase of a festival button in 2008, charging $5. The price of multi-show passes will go up $5 apiece.
“We’ve been doing this six years, and we’ve never raised prices, but everybody else has raised prices on us,” explained Julianne Brienza, the executive director of Capital Fringe. “Anyone who has been living in the world in the past two years has seen prices go up.” Specifically, Brienza says she has seen increases in the cost of such necessities as renting lighting equipment, gas, insurance and salaries paid to festival employees.
Brienza argues that the quality of the performances has also risen in the past few years, citing producers who are increasingly seasoned and savvy, and more fringey offerings coming from out of town, raising the bar. To offset some of the impact of the ticket increase, the festival will add options for those who purchase multi-show passes “to make it known that we value people who see multiple shows,” she says. Among them: A hotline for pass holders who want to exchange tickets for shows — an option long available to subscribers of more traditional theaters.
“What we do has value,” she says, “and the math isn’t working.”
The rest of the popular festival will remain much the same. Brienza says the number of shows will be roughly the same, and the length of the festival is unchanged. This year’s performances will be announced later; tickets will go on sale June 20 at Capfringe.org.