The Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe has a new name and a new secret hideout — underneath the Ben Franklin, across the street from the most-excellent Race Street Pier — and everyone’s invited! The nonprofit previously known as the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe has consolidated its name, thankfully, to FringeArts. Now you can tell your friends about it without running out of breath. (And the new name is a hell of a lot better than the even more reductive FArts.) The new Fringe digs were unveiled yesterday during a swanky press conference and pimped by Big Men On Campus like Ed Rendell and Michael Nutter. The 1903 historic former pumping station will be transformed into a year-round center for contemporary performing and visual arts; the 10,000-square-foot building will feature a 240-seat theater, rehearsal and creation studio, permanent festival hub, outdoor events plaza, restaurant/bar and administrative offices.
Programming under the new FringeArts banner will expand to include not only the annual 16-day Festival but also a year-round series of high-quality contemporary dance, theater and music performances both local and international; commissioned public art installations; and a residency program that continues to expand and grow as a state-of-the-art incubator for artists. In addition, the 2,800-square-foot restaurant/bar will serve as an outlet for creative discussion between artists and audiences. Decked out with cast-iron pipes and pressure gauges, the bar design preserves the historic character of the original building. Once completed, the 125-seat space will also host cabaret-style performances, comedy and live music year-round.
The building also will provide FringeArts an opportunity to develop significant new earned-revenue streams through the rental of its various spaces and components, including the theater, studio, restaurant, bar and plaza, as well as from restaurant and bar revenues. New revenues will help the organization to create new programs and services and sustain and expand existing ones, deepening the impact of its mission. New programs already in development include visual arts components that will debut as part of the 2013 Festival. The organization will tap in to international booking networks of touring artists, as well as leverage partnerships with local and national companies. With four seasons of cutting-edge entertainment to complement the annual 16-day festival (Sept. 6-21, 2013), the organization is primed to support more artists, reach more audiences, and make the city an even greater destination for contemporary arts.