Update: BorderLight Festival Postponed Until 2022


  • Steve Wagner
Update: Due to continuing concerns about the spread of COVID-19, the in-person portion of the 2021 BorderLight International Theatre + Fringe Festival, which was slated to take place in downtown Cleveland from July 22 to 24, has been postponed.

“This decision is heart wrenching and was not taken lightly," reads a statement issued by BorderLight’s co-founders and Board of Directors. "While in many parts of the U.S., COVID-19 news is increasingly positive, there are still concerns that make a summer 2021 event challenging: low vaccination uptake across much of the Midwest; highly contagious emerging variants, which have been overwhelmingly impacting younger populations; and the effects of prolonged COVID-19 related border closures and travel restrictions on the festival’s core international programming. All of this created a situation of uncertainty, leading to delays in planning, challenges in finalizing funding, and difficulties in contracting.”

Virtual “fringe festival” programming will continue as planned, including 20+ interactive live streamed and on-demand virtual works, as well as self-guided audio events from local and international companies.

The festival hopes to return in July of 2022.

Original Post 2/24/2021:
Founded as a non-profit in 2015 by Cleveland-area theater artists Dale Heinen and Jeffrey Pence, the BorderLight International Theatre + Fringe Festival debuted in Cleveland two years ago. The festival featured drama, stand-up comedy, interactive experiences, solo performances, circus theater, street spectacles, physical theater and "conversation-provoking works addressing timely political, cultural and social justice topics."

Festival organizers just announced the festival will return to Cleveland this summer, and they’ve put out a call for performing artists, street and circus performers, multimedia creators and more for the event, which will feature a fully outdoor program with virtual options.

It returns to downtown Cleveland July 22 to 24.

The "fringe" is the open submission part of the festival, and the application, which must be submitted by March 5, is free.

"As one of hundreds of fringe festivals worldwide, the BorderLight Festival Fringe serves as a platform for independent artists and companies to showcase their work and engage new audiences as part of a vibrant festival environment," reads a press release about the event.

BorderLight provides venue and operations support, and artists are compensated through a box office split, with 70 percent of box office proceeds going back to artists.

With the guidance of public health advisors, the BorderLight Festival has been reimagined as a hybrid outdoor and virtual event. Performances will take place on open air stages, in green spaces and at other outdoor locations that allow for social distancing. The festival will also host interactive and virtual options that can be viewed remotely.

In its inaugural year, BorderLight hosted 40 unique productions and special events featuring artists from eight countries and across the U.S. BorderLight is a member of the U.S. Association of Fringe Festivals (USAFF) and World Fringe Network.

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