As first announced last year, the KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival will host the 2018 United States Association of Fringe Festivals (USAFF) annual conference in Rochester, NY from Saturday, November 10 through Monday the 12th.

“This is a real honor for us – both for our festival and for our city,” says Festival Producer Erica Fee. “We are thrilled to host producers and staff from many of the 29-member festivals in 21 states – including the brand-new Tampa and Houston Fringes – and look forward to introducing them to the Flower City.”

In addition to USAFF annual business meetings, the conference will include tours of Rochester and the region, group dining (including a Gourmet Garbage Plate Bar hosted by Max of Eastman Place), professional development sessions for producers, visits to Fringe venues, and a joint session for producers and venue managers.

“Holding our next conference in Rochester was a unanimous decision by the USAFF,” says Michael Marinaccio, producer of the Orlando Fringe (FL), which is the oldest fringe festival in the U.S. "I think Rochester Fringe is a great example to new festivals about how to make a big impact on their communities very quickly. The organization, infrastructure, community support, and artistic content are all comparable to or exceeding those of many festivals that have been around much longer.” 

From its five-day debut in 2012 to its first-time 11 days this past September 12-22, the KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival has become one of the fastest-growing and most-attended fringe festivals in the U.S. It is also the largest multi-genre arts festival in New York State. More than 150 of the Fringe’s 500+ performances in over 20 downtown Rochester venues are free of charge. Renowned among the world’s 200+ fringe festivals for its large-scale, outdoor, free-to-the-public performances, Rochester’s Fringe was also the first fringe festival in North America to feature a Spiegeltent, which is now an annual attraction. From comedy to theatre, from music to dance, from visual art and film to spoken word, and from children’s entertainment to multi-disciplinary collaborations, the festival’s diversity extends to venues that span the gamut from parked cars to grand theatres.

“The success of the KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival and the fact that it now serves as an inspiration to fringe festivals across the country and around the world is something of which our city can be extremely proud,” says Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren. “I look forward to welcoming the USAFF to Rochester and am grateful that Fringe contributes to the vibrancy and artistic fabric of our community.”

“Rochester is the cultural capital of Upstate New York and one of the most arts-centric cities in the country, and I couldn’t think of a more appropriate place to hold the USAFF annual conference,” adds Visit Rochester President & CEO Don Jeffries. “Visit Rochester is partnering with the KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival to welcome conference delegates in person and with Rochester goodie bags.”  

Fringe organizers point to the giant, free, outdoor spectacles that Rochester’s Fringe presents each year as one of the keys to its success. From aerial dancing by California’s BANDALOOP (2012/2013) and New York City’s Grounded Aerial (2015) on the 21-story HSBC Building, to street theatre by Canada’s Circus Orange (2014) with its 20-foot-tall, fire-breathing TRICYCLE at Manhattan Square, and from the choreographed “flight” of Brooklyn’s STREB EXTREME ACTION COMPANY (2016), to 2017’s U.S. premiere tour of French street theatre company Plasticiens Volants’ awe-inspiring BIG BANG and this year’s North American debut of MASSAOKE at Parcel 5 – tens of thousands of Fringe attendees have experienced art on a truly grand scale.

“We are being called ‘the Rochester model’ by other fringe festivals across the U.S. and the world because of these performances,” adds Fee. “A recent study conducted by the Audience Agency, suggests that outdoor arts achieve what the rest of the arts sector and theatre aspires to but seldom delivers: an audience that is representative of the population as a whole. Making the arts accessible to everyone is a key part of our mission.”

Rochester Fringe Festival connects and empowers artists, audiences, venues, educational institutions, and the community to celebrate, explore, and inspire creativity via an annual, multi-genre arts festival. The not-for-profit, 501©(3) corporation was pioneered by several of Rochester’s esteemed cultural institutions including Geva Theatre Center, the George Eastman House, and Garth Fagan Dance; up-and-coming arts groups like PUSH Physical Theatre; and higher-education partners such as the University of Rochester and Rochester Institute of Technology. Fringe’s overarching mission is to provide a platform for artists to share their ideas and develop their skills while making arts readily accessible to audiences, as well as to stimulate downtown Rochester both culturally and economically.

About KeyCorp: KeyCorp’s roots trace back 190 years to Albany, New York. Headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, Key is one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies, with assets of approximately $138.8 billion at September 30, 2018. Key provides deposit, lending, cash management and investment services to individuals and businesses in 15 states under the name KeyBank National Association through a network of approximately 1,100 branches and more than 1,500 ATMs. Key also provides a broad range of sophisticated corporate and investment banking products, such as merger and acquisition advice, public and private debt and equity, syndications and derivatives to middle market companies in selected industries throughout the United States under the KeyBanc Capital Markets trade name. For more information, visit KeyBank is Member FDIC.

2018 Fringe sponsors included: KeyBank; University of Rochester; RIT; Rochester Area Community Foundation; Waldron Rise Foundation; Ames Amzalak Memorial Trust; New York State Council on the Arts; National Endowment for the Arts; City of Rochester; Imagine Monroe; Daisy Marquis Jones Foundation; Nocon & Associates; Konar Properties; SUNY Geneseo; Richard U. & Elaine P. Wilson Foundation; Ron Fielding; Max and Marian Farash Charitable Foundation; Fred & Floy Willmott Foundation; Louis S. & Molly B. Wolk Foundation; Hyatt Regency Rochester; The Pike Company; Bond, Schoeneck & King LLP; Boylan Code LLP; Mengel, Metzger, Barr & Co. LLP; 13WHAM TV; CITY Newspaper, D&C Digital; Broccolo Tree & Lawncare; McCarthy Tents & Events; Hamilton A/V; Nazareth College; St. John Fisher College; The College at Brockport; East Avenue Inn & Suites; The Rubens Family Foundation; Genesee Beer; Wegmans; Gouvernet Arts Fund at the Rochester Area Community Foundation; Visit Rochester; Wilson Foundation; Rochester Regional Health; Scott Miller; House of Guitars, Inc.; City Blue; Yelp!; WXXI;; Midtown Athletic Club; Mary Cariola Children’s Center; ESL Charitable Foundation; YMCA of Greater Rochester; BOLD Technologies; Java’s; Max of Eastman Place, and North Eastern Pool & Spa.

Media please note: NEW 2018 Fringe images and video info may be found at