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Fringe Logo SMALL FN 4.10.13In its second year, the First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival arrived. The festival doubled in size to 10 days and added dozens of performances. Many were free and most were very affordable.

Here’s what we learned in the second year of Fringe:


1. Rochesterians love festivals, even new ones.

Our love for festivals is well-known. But we can also be really, really cynical. Fringe proved we can embrace new, fun stuff.


2. There’s room for Fringe and Jazz.

Sources say the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival was not happy when the Fringe Festival launched in 2012, even though the festivals are several months apart. There were concerns about competing for branding in the East End, recognition and sponsorship money. That’s all been put to rest, I hope.

The two events enhance each other and enhance the East End as an arts district. The festivals prove Rochesterians want more excuses to come downtown to enjoy live performances.

(As an aside, Jazz is for-profit. Fringe is non-profit. Jazz – which doesn’t have to open its books – gets way more taxpayer support than Fringe. Jazz got $175,000 from the city alone in 2013. Fringe got $20,000 – and will end up owing the city more than that for police and other services.)


3. Theater. Theater. Theater.

After getting minimal support from the city, the Rochester Broadway Theatre League has partnered with Medley Centre to build a performing arts center in Irondequoit. But Democratic Mayoral Candidate Lovely Warren wants a theater to go to Midtown. Fringe bolsters her case.

The Fringe Festival proves live theater brings people downtown who spend money. More than people who go to sporting events, people who go to theater often eat out first and get drinks afterward.

In short, theaters bring vitality and economic development.


4. Block F is wasted space.

Courtesy: Fringe Festival Facebook Page

Courtesy: Fringe Festival Facebook Page

The large Main St. parking lot is catty-corner to Eastman Theater. It’s rarely filled with cars. The Jazz and Fringe festivals set up performance tents on the lot. It only gets meaningful use twice a year. The University of Rochester has rights to build on the lot. It should move on this immediately to add to the character of the East End and fill in a “missing tooth” on Main Street.


5. Manhattan Square Park should be used all the time.



Thousands of people filled the amphitheater and surrounding park for the pre-Bandaloop concert. The city has said the park is too small for Party in the Park. Rubbish. It should be used for Party in the Park. It should be used for concerts every weekend in the summer. It’s a grossly underused asset.

(If you missed Bandaloop’s show, watch it here.)

Links of the Day:


– Three letters you’ll have to know: LDC. Indictments are coming related to Monroe County’s use of these entities.

– Upstate’s nuclear power plants, including Ginna, are in financial trouble and could be forced to close.

Child deaths by guns are vastly under-counted.

The “sell-by” dates on your groceries are useless.

– Checking in with Rochester native and Syracuse football player Ashton Broyld.

Links of the Day:

– Rochester is getting a Fringe Festival. I had never heard of such a thing, but it sounds really cool. The weekend festival in September in the East End is devoted to theater of all kinds –  formal plays, street skits, comedy troupes and dance. People can even submit their own shows!

Many of the events will be free in outside venues. The festival expects 15,000 visitors the first year. It seems like a festival families would enjoy.

Festivals have the potential to be economic engines, as we have seen with the jazz festival.

We love our festivals and this one will fit right in!

– She’s accused of sexually harassing her principal, coworkers and students. But despite strong evidence of deeply disturbing conduct, the Rochester City School District hasn’t been able to fire teacher Valerie Yarn, thanks to an arbitrator’s ruling.

Every now and then, cases of egregious conduct by teachers and the expensive fight to remove them come to light. People hold up them up as examples of the perverted power of teachers unions. There’s no question the Yarn case shows the need for reform. But these cases are rare; the D&C points out the district has only tried to fire several teachers. These cases are also not an excuse to eliminate due process.

Arbitration – as anyone who has been through one knows – takes forever. There’s little oversight and the process can be abused by both sides.

– Adjunct professors are key players in many colleges and universities, but they don’t make a lot of money.

– NFL blackouts are not fair to taxpayers, who will be asked to fund massive improvements to Ralph Wilson Stadium.

– Maureen Dowd refers to the GOP race as the “Hester Prynne” primaries. She quotes a Republican strategist who laments the party’s attack on sex. “Sex is popular.”