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Edmonton’s Fringe Festival hosts telethon to keep event running

Click to play video 'Popular Edmonton festival kicks off 39th year online' Popular Edmonton festival kicks off 39th year online
Today is the first day of the Edmonton International Fringe Festival. The difference this year is that you’ll be watching it from your couch. Morgan Black has more on a beloved festival gone virtual.

A popular Edmonton festival is hosting its first telethon in hopes of earning back some of this year’s lost revenue.

The Edmonton International Fringe Festival had to cancel this year’s event due to health restrictions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. It is the first time a cancellation has happened in 39 years of “Fringing.”

Read more: 2020 Edmonton International Fringe Festival cancelled over COVID-19 pandemic

Click to play video '2020 Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic' 2020 Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic
2020 Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic

The all-day telethon on Wednesday has kick started some essential fundraising for the festival.

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Supporters are encouraged to donate what they would usually spend at the Fringe or donate $39 in celebration of Fringe’s 39th year during Tears, Bears and Tickets You’ll Never Use.

The telethon features livestream performances by Fringe artists from the Westbury Theatre.

Like many annual Edmonton festivals facing pandemic challenges, the Fringe lost major revenue.

Read more: Record-setting $1.72M year for the 2019 Edmonton Fringe Festival

According to organizers, the cancellation has led to a loss of $3 million which would typically go to workers and staff and the 1600 out-of-work artists dependent on ticket sales.

“When you get involved with Fringe Theatre and the Festival, you contribute to the artistic community in Edmonton,” artistic director Murray Utas said. “You become a part of the magic that makes fringing possible. You give life to art, you champion creativity and elevate our city in the global arts community.”

The goal of the telethon, alongside the Fringe’s other fundraising, is to raise $1 million for the organization.

“From that, 30 per cent will go to a newly established artists endowment fund to support artists in need for years to come,” Utas in a statement.

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The remaining 70 per cent will be directed towards general operations for the 2021 festival.

Read more: Coronavirus forces Edmonton-area festivals to cancel 2020 events

The telethon leads up to The Fringe that Never Was which will replace the annual summer festival. The 11 day digital event will feature online activities, performances, Fringe TV shows and contests.

You can make a donation here or call 780-448-9000 until 9 p.m. Wednesday.

The Fringe that Never Was runs August 13-23, 2020.