Die, Fringe button, die

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘nate steiner’

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.

Well I used to say something in my profile about not quite being a “tinker, tailor, soldier, or spy” but Tom stole that for our about us page, so I guess I’ll have to find another way to express that I am a man of many interests.

Hmm, guess I just did.

My tastes run the gamut from sophomoric to Shakespeare and in my “professional” life I’ve sold things, served beer, written software, and carried heavy objects… sometimes at the same place. It’s that range of loves and activities that makes it so easy for me to love DC – we’ve got it all.


6 thoughts on “Die, Fringe button, die

  1. nooooo! really?! i <3 fringe, and the button doesn’t really bother me. could be because i volunteer and get free passes because of it–something i highly recommend.

  2. It just seems like a shitty thing to do to your audience. Not that Fringe has anything to be ashamed of, but we don’t make readers wear our buttons, nor does anyone else require that you wear some festival ribbon when you go out to a paid admission festival… It’s just a silly moneymaking machine. If you need more money, just charge it, jerks.

  3. Thanks for writing this article…I’m glad someone out there agrees with me that THE FRINGE BUTTON IS STUPID.

    I get that arts organizations are swamped for cash right now, but this seems like a really lazy way of generating income. I think if the quality of the average Fringe show were better, they would have no problem charging a higher ticket price. My feeling is that if a show is really good, and many people pay money to go see it, then those artists should make more money than a show that people opt not to see. If the Fringe is to be an arts incubator, I’m fine if not every egg hatches, so to speak.

  4. I’ve gone in years past, but skipped it last year for that exact reason. With this economy there’s just no way I’m forking over extra for a losable STUPID BUTTON! Woolly already takes great risks and now with Source back in the game – seriously, Crazyface rocked – and even the Harman letting us into free rehearsals, it should be easy to find good shows elsewhere.

  5. All around i think that “The Price Should be The Price” – no extra fees, no service charges, no processing fee, no button, – period. These are practices which I associate with greedy, poorly-run, or simply profit-motivated corporations, not the Arts.

  6. Hear, hear! I hate the Fringe button and completely fall into the camp of a 1-2 performance attendee. It is such a discouragement, and let me decide what “cause” I want to flaunt on my shirt, thank you. I think that’s what bothers me the most – that they make you wear it to the performance! Thanks for writing this article. Hopefully it will be heard when making plans for next year’s Fringe.