Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals
CAFF’s member festivals have worked together for more than 30 years to pioneer a made-in-Canada model unique in the Fringe world. Our festivals are designed to put artists and audiences in direct contact, fostering experimentation and discovery on both sides of the fourth wall.
A Long History
The first Canadian Fringe was the Edmonton Fringe Festival, established in 1982. Inspired by the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, which began in 1947, the success and growth of Edmonton’s adapted formula soon led to the creation of Fringe Festivals across Canada and the United States. Each festival evolved its own flavour to match the distinct personality of its home city, yet each remained dedicated to the Fringe philosophy of accessible, inexpensive, and fun theatre-going.
The Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals was formed to protect these four guiding principles, still in place today:
- Participants will be selected on a non-juried basis, through a first-come, first-served process, a lottery, or other method approved by the Association.
- The audience must have the option to pay a ticket price, 100% of which goes directly to the artists.
- Fringe Festival producers have no control over the artistic content of each performance. The artistic freedom of the participants is unrestrained.
- Festivals must provide an easily accessible opportunity for all audiences and all artists to participate in Fringe Festivals.
In 1994, the Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals was officially registered as a non-profit organization with the following mandate:
- To safeguard the integrity of Fringe Festivals as outlined in the four minimum criteria.
- To recognize that the health of all member Festivals is important to the Circuit and therefore the artists’ health as a whole.
- To encourage communication and cooperation between member Festivals thereby fostering the continuity of our guiding principles.
Fringe and Fringe Festival are registered trademarks of the Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals (CAFF) and cannot be used without expressed written permission from the Association. This trademark allows CAFF to ensure that any theatre festival in Canada that wishes to call itself “Fringe” must abide by the CAFF mandate and the four guiding principles.
There are currently 33 members of The Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals, including 6 members in the United States. Canada now enjoys more Fringe Festivals than any other country in the world and each festival is a leader in the development of theatre artists and audiences in its community.Collectively, CAFF festival audiences are a boon for independent artists. In the last 3 years alone, they have generated more than $10 million in box office revenues, returned directly to our artists.