Geneseo benefits as Higher Education Partner for Fringe Festival

After nearly three years of planning, the First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival in concluded on Sunday Sept. 23 with a performance of Charlie Bethel’s Gilgamesh at the Geva Theatre Center. A fringe festival is a multiday performing arts festival in which venues decide their own programming.

Geneseo was a 2012 Higher Education Partner for the festival. Jonathan Gonder, chair of the music department, served as Geneseo’s liaison to the Fringe Festival.

“[The festival] creates a kind of hothouse environment that provides a lot of intensive experience within a compact time frame,” Gonder said via email. “Because much of this [experience] is of educational value, the festival created the possibility for local colleges to participate as educational sponsors.”

The educational benefits of the festival attracted several other collegiate sponsors, including Rochester Institute of Technology and the University of Rochester.

The Higher Education partnership offered Geneseo two slots for free performances, as well as two student internships. One on-campus group that directly benefitted from this arrangement was the Geneseo Bhangra team, who offered a free performance on Saturday Sept. 22 at RAPA East End Theatre.

According to senior Iris Huang, Geneseo Bhangra team captain, the experience was “phenomenal.” The team learned that 57 people attended the festival specifically for its seven-minute performance.

“I believe this opportunity was a great help in terms of publicizing our team,” Huang said in an email. “Our name has been spread to a community that greatly enjoys and supports the arts … Geneseo, in turn, gained publicity since our team name and team description highlights our stem from … Geneseo.”

According to Gonder, she feels it is “excellent for Geneseo performers to become better known through their own performances, and the presence of Geneseo as a significant regional arts provider is enhanced by our participation.”

Gonder noted that several workshops “were also prepared for and offered with students in mind, and made available without charge to Geneseo students.”

For the Geneseo student body, the Fringe Festival offered an unprecedented number of opportunities to experience the Rochester arts scene.

“Rochester is such a vibrant arts hub and, occurring this early in the year, the festival really whets the appetite for the arts, and increases the awareness of performance venues and types that continue to offer artistic events throughout the year,” Gonder said. “Now that students have had the chance to attend and participate, they can avail themselves of further shows and performances at almost any time during the year.”