CCFF Origin Story
In 2009, during the weekly company meeting for our Athens-based video production company Randomosity Productions, a writer in the group announced that he would like to produce one of the plays he wrote for the stage. Willing to put up the money himself, and risk taking a substantial loss to get it to happen, he asked the other members of Randomosity to help him make it happen.
Everyone agreed that instead of simply producing the play ourselves, if Randomosity were to enter a theater festival, some of the financial risk would be reduced. Unfortunately, in Athens, Georgia there was no theater festival at that time. Marty Cronk, the Producing Director of Randomosity, and a native of Orlando, Florida, suggested emulating what he witnessed in his home town; the collaboration of performers throughout the city to create something greater than the sum of their parts – a Fringe Theater Festival. So Randomosity decided to spearhead a community effort to establish a theater festival – in the tradition of the Fringe Festival from Edinburgh, Scotland.
Thus began several years of research, meetings and interviews of Fringe organizers, phone conferences, and visits to Fringe Festivals in other cities. We met and conversed with the organizers of the Atlanta Fringe Festival in 2010. In 2011 Randomosity sent the playwright to represent Athens at the annual Fringe organizers’ meeting for the American National Conference of Fringe Festivals, or USAFF. The playwright moved to the midwestern US and his play was successfully produced at the Kansas City Fringe Festival in 2012, adding to our experience and knowledge.
Throughout our time of researching how to make a Fringe Festival work in Athens we found a surplus of new and unique performers right here in our town. Although Athens is generally thought of as a music town, it also encourages eclectic art of all kinds. As we explored our community to gain support and information we were left with the feeling that we are providing something Athens has been missing: a place for all performers to share their art and actually make money doing art, and for audiences to find something new and fresh.
Shortly thereafter Randomosity Productions began partnering with one of our video clients, Mux Blank, to produce short films, stop-motion animation, and archival videos for the Carnival of Black Hearts. This partnership flourished through the following two years, and in December of 2014 Mr. Blank approached Marty Cronk and Megan Dunn with the notion of working together to develop the Fringe for the Classic City, Athens, GA.
In December of 2014 the founders of Classic City Fringe Festival came together to plan their first Festival year. The community response was overwhelmingly positive. In October 2015, artists, local businesses, vendors, theater groups and venues all came together to support the Fringe vision. In their first year CCFF hosted over 24 hours of performances in eight venues over three days. The Classic City Fringe Festival is now a magnet of Athens culture, hosting the event annually every October, and bringing together the most daring and creative performers in Athens! We have witnessed so much creativity here in Athens and as organizers we want to give these artists the best chance of success. In this we are not alone. We have found many of our community leaders bolstered by the Fringe spirit, welcoming this new outlet for artists. They are discovering what the Canadian Fringe Festivals discovered and continue to demonstrate, that cultural enhancement is a means of economic development.