Statement from CAFF regarding the suspension of the Nanaimo Fringe Festival – Sept 2023
As of September 12, 2023, the membership status of Nanaimo Fringe Festival, presented by Pacific Coast Stage Company (PCSC), has been suspended while it is undergoing a review by the CAFF Executive Committee and its Member Festivals. This action has been taken in response to artist and community feedback and to concerns that were brought to the attention of CAFF.
Concerns were raised to CAFF’s attention about the well being and safety of Nanaimo Fringe’s participants and artistic community in July 2023. The CAFF Executive Committee engaged in communication with PCSC staff and board of directors to request a plan to ensure a safe space for artists to participate in Nanaimo Fringe Festival which took place in August 2023. Following the close of the Festival, additional reports were made to CAFF that these conditions were not met. Therefore the CAFF Executive elected to give notice of suspension to PCSC as they undergo further investigation. CAFF Executive have requested the PCSC submit a written statement explaining these decisions and their case to be reinstated as a member of CAFF. Upon receipt of the written statement, due process will be followed by the membership to determine how the notice of suspension will evolve.
CAFF has trademarked the use of the word Fringe and Fringe Festivals in Canada in order to give assurances to artists and audiences that the CAFF guiding principles are followed and adhered to by our member Festivals. CAFF and its Member Festivals believe in and are committed to creating safer spaces. There is absolutely zero tolerance for bullying, harassment, discrimination, abuse, threats, and assault at our Festivals, in our theatres/venues, or on our grounds. CAFF is committed to welcoming diverse and marginalized communities into our spaces, and strives to actively oppose marginalization, repression, and oppression within our member festivals, including artists, staff, volunteers, and patrons. The Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals welcomes and supports our trans, Two-Spirit and non-binary community and we support everyone’s human rights and expression of gender. There is no tolerance for transphobic views. The safety of artists, staff, volunteers, and audiences is of the utmost importance to CAFF and its Member Festivals.
As members of this organization and citizens of the world, we recognize that there is an increased need for active allyship for marginalized communities. We acknowledge harm has been caused in our community and we will continue to strive for safer spaces across our North American members.
For any questions, please contact CAFF’s Administrator at email@example.com, who will bring it to the attention of the CAFF Executive and Touring Artist Committee.
2023 CAFF Mid-Year Update – July 2023
The Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals (CAFF) is a member-driven, volunteer-run, arts service organization that provides help and support to its member Festivals. CAFF and its member Festivals believe in and are committed to creating safer spaces that celebrate creative risk where community thrives. Bullying, harassment, discrimination, abuse, threats, and assault have no place at our Festivals, in our theatres/venues, or on our grounds. We actively oppose marginalization, repression, and oppression. We believe in care and kindness above all else, and we aim to treat everyone with equal respect. We actively support, uplift, and stand by the diverse communities our Fringe Festivals represent and intersect with, including systemically and historically minoritized groups. We proudly and loudly stand against hate.
During the CAFF Conference in November 2022, the Association and its member Festivals felt it timely to re-evaluate who we are as an organization, what it is we stand for, and what values and ideals we represent. We began the immense task of assessment and evaluation —with conscious purpose and intent— of everything we do. We are reviewing and updating our guiding principles to better illustrate the ideals that are most important to and reflective of our members’ values, and determining policies and practices that offer better support to our member Festivals. We will work collectively on strengthening our social and safer spaces policies within our individual Festivals, and ensure clear messaging and effective communication channels are established. The work we are undertaking will take time. We are steadfast in our commitment and aim to have this important work completed by the end of the November 2023 CAFF Conference. The results of this work will then be shared with our community.
Fringe Festivals are meeting places where experience, perspective, diversity, and passion are explored, uplifted, and celebrated through story and art. The broader Fringe community is vibrant, diverse, inclusive, welcoming, and safe.
This is reflective of our guiding principle: “Festivals will promote and model inclusivity, diversity and multiculturalism, and will endeavour to incorporate them into all aspects of our organizations including our boards, staff, and volunteers.” We also recognize and commit to upholding the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom, Section 15 that makes it clear that “every individual in Canada – regardless of race, religion, national or ethnic origin, colour, sex, age or physical or mental disability – is to be treated with the same respect, dignity, and consideration.”
Every day, we strive to better support our diverse community of artists, volunteers, technicians, patrons, and creatives who fringe with us. We continue to work with our member Festivals and the greater Fringe community to foster a respectful environment that celebrates creative ingenuity.
Any questions about CAFF or the work that we do, please reach out to the CAFF Executive Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What has CAFF been up to? – A Look Back at 2022
As we come back from a welcomed holiday break and look forward into 2023, the Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals and its members are excited for the year ahead. We are ready to get to work and bring you a full season of Fringe Festivals across the continent.
The 2022 calendar year has been one to celebrate as we were able to gather once again and return to the festival performances and atmosphere our Fringes are known for. Almost all our members had full events and we were excited to welcome back our international artists as the world opened.
In May 2022, CAFF was a sponsor and contributor to the World Fringe Congress in Orlando hosted by the Orlando Fringe. This was the first in-person international conference for Fringe Producers since we all met in Adelaide in February 2020, not knowing at the time the disruption that was ahead of us. Not only were we able to share our experiences, as the pandemic affected Producers around the world, we took the time to learn new skills, and have meaningful conversations about how the Fringe Movement shifts into the future.
CAFF held its own in-person conference in November 2022 in Montreal hosted by the St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival and MainLine Theatre. Once again, it was incredible to be in the same room together as Fringe Producers to support each other, learn from each other, and discuss the future. We returned to many of the conversations we started in 2019 that were paused during the pandemic and have set out a full work plan for the Association and its Committees for the next few years. Watch for some new initiatives in the coming months and years as we embrace Fringe in a post pandemic, more inclusive world.
Speaking of pauses, CAFF was pleased to bring back our Touring Lottery in the fall of 2022 for touring in 2023 after a two-year hiatus. This was the first time that we did a BIPOC priority draw lottery where BIPOC companies were drawn first up to 50% in each category. We are pleased to say that we achieved this target for the 2023 lottery and will continue to do this moving forward with possible expansion. We also broke apart the international category into two categories – American and International – to give more opportunities for our artists from over seas.
Overall, it has been a year to celebrate coming back together again and return Fringe to its full life. We are excited for what the future brings and look forward to sharing news and new initiatives in 2023 as we rise and keep on Fringin.’
– The CAFF Team