Tine Betz and Rich Neumann
Hometown: Both Tina and Rich were born and raised in Wilmington.
Occupation: Tina is the Wilmington cultural affairs director and Rich is the assistant communications director for Mayor James Baker.
Fringe Festival: Being familiar with its wild popularity in other major cities like Philadelphia, Orlando and San Francisco, Rich was the first to suggest the idea of bringing the Fringe Festival to Wilmington, though he says it was Mayor Baker's vision of making Wilmington a "world-class city" that brought the idea to the forefront. To be held in the city Oct. 1-4, the Fringe Festival looks to push the envelope with experimental and unconventional art in many forms, and is now accepting applications for artists looking to submit their work for exhibition and display. The deadline is June 1. If you are looking to get involved with the Fringe Festival, check out their Web site for all the information at www.fringewilmingtonde.com. And if 10 friends reference your name while registering, you're automatically entered for a prize pack drawing.
It's exciting that you guys are bringing such a forward-thinking and progressive event like Fringe Festival to Wilmington. How do you think the city will respond?
Tina: Any time you break down walls or barriers is a good thing. I think there are still people who are resistant to the excitement that's going on in Wilmington, who still think of it as a very 9-to-5, very parochial city. The goal of this kind of festival, which I think the people will welcome, is to further that urban vibe and level of excitement.
A Fringe Festival usually relies on art and theater that will test or challenge the audience. What kind of challenges should we expect?
Tina: The thing about Fringe is that you never know what you're gonna get. You can take a look at the scheduled artists and programs and make an educated guess about what you'd like to see, but that's it. One show might be an absolute bomb, the next might be unbelievable. But both extremes are all part of the fun, and if you've got an open mind, you can meet that "challenge."
Rich: The challenges are multi-layered in the sense that, for some shows, your satisfaction might be challenged, for others, it could be the provocative subject matter, for another, maybe the environment is a challenge to your preconceived notion of what a theater is. That's what we mean by challenging the audience members. We're not assuming all Wilmington audiences are Philistines, let's make that clear. We're not trying to insult people, but what we're saying is that this type of thing hasn't been done in Wilmington before, so we want to encourage artistic experimentation.
What about nudity? What we're asking is, where is the line?
Rich: As long as it's presented within the spirit of Fringe and is done on a professional manner, we don't have a problem with it.
Tina: The boundaries are self-defined by the artist and audience member, so we're leaving it up to each individual. We would not turn down something because there's nudity or violence, so those things alone would not be a reason to exclude an artist as a Fringe participant. That will not do it. What will do it is if [the submission] doesn't have the artistic integrity we're looking for. If it's outrageous just for the sake of being outrageous, then where's the art in that?
Since art is such a subjective topic, who decides what stays and what goes?
Rich: It's a juried selection process, and people will immediately assume that "juried" means, "Oh, they're going to be censoring things." But what we're actually trying to do is go 180 degrees in the other direction in that we want to make sure we include everyone from the art community to have a say in who will participate.
Who will be on this jury?
Rich: Every arts organization is on board, including the Delaware Center of Contemporary Arts, The Grand, Theatre N and Opera Delaware, to name a few. The art community knows how critically important this first year is to sustaining the festival.
What disciplines of art will be covered?
Rich: There are four, one of them being a 24-hour filmmaking competition that is its own thing. The other three categories are visual arts, performing arts and cinema.
Will there be any local hotel packages or deals at Wilmington bars or restaurants?
Tina: Yes, there will be, but we're still working on putting those together. Our focus now is on gathering all the art by June 1 and making decisions on the submissions thereafter.
Where will the art be on display?
Rich: The goal right now is to try and keep the footprint as condensed as possible so that you have that sense of vibrancy. Right now we're looking along the Riverfront and following the spine up Market Street to 10th Street, as well as Theatre N to the west.
How much are tickets?
Tina: At most $10 per performance and likely an all-access pass that will cost between $70 and $80, yet to be determined.