Fringe tickets went on sale this morning and Tom and I both commented to each other that we wanted to mention it but our loathing of the mandatory button was so great that we both had refrained thus far.
So I decided that I would put up one authoritative Fringe button hate post and that would be it. I like the idea of Fringe, even if sometimes the reality fails to live up to the ideals, so I don’t want to refrain from any mention or promotion. I may yet continue my personal boycott of Fringe events from last year but I pledge that – for the remainder of Fringe 09 – I will keep my button loathing to myself. After this.Tom’s comment on the matter is much more eloquent than my usual profanity-laced tirades. “Just sell me tickets to your shows, don’t make me put on a blauschein for crying out loud.” I share his dislike for the mandatory identity branding and will raise him a loathing of the disingenuous effort to boost revenue at the expense of the forgetful.
The party line defense of the button is that the money helps support the artists. If you counter this nonsense statement with “well what the hell is the ticket price, then?” you get an explanation that the money goes in a different pool that’s shared equally across the artists.
Why Fringe can’t simply accomplish this same concept by allocating a portion of each ticket to a pool divided equally is beyond me. Which is my way of saying that of course they could accomplish it this way, they’re just offering yet another offensive disingenuous explanation of this moronic practice.
With regards to the “but you get discounts” defense: I’ll get myself a coupon book, thanks.
The thing that chaps my ass most about the button, though, is that it seems so antithetical to the outreach aspect of Fringe.
Fringe is a great opportunity for artists to perform something they couldn’t put on any other way. Wonderful, but only half the picture. Fringe’s own “who we are” page includes the statement that the show offers opportunities for performers AND”attracts non-traditional audiences to the performing arts.”
The button, however, is a discouragement to the idle attendee who might only go to one or two shows. At best it’s a 33% surcharge to anyone considering attending a single show. At worst it’s going to feel like a dishonest way to tack on a few extra bucks. Nobody likes the fee for checking baggage. They’re not going to like the button any better.
Considering how desperate the theater world is to bring in new audiences it seems ill-advised to alienate them by asking them to pay your button surcharge and not even managing to have enough to sell.
Okay, that’s it, screed over. If you have some button-hate to get on, comment away. Let’s all get it our of our system and hope some sanity eventually prevails.