Finding your Fringe

Nothing like a snowy Saturday for an epiphany. I’ve been volunteering the last few days at our inaugural Fort Wayne Fringe Fest, a festival concept with a long history that came to light in 1947 in EdinBurgh. It came to life to create a unique space for a broad range of performing artists to express their creative pursuits without being forced within often archaic definitions of what can be considered mainstream ‘art’. Early on I thought, of course, I’m happy to help out and sponsor as this is related to social impact in that arts can be a powerful catalyst for community connection and economic development.  However, to be honest, I didn’t realize how important the personal experience as an audience member of the performances would be for my own social impact potential.

Fort Wayne Fringe Fest is an inaugural Fort Wayne, Indiana event driven by passionate volunteers who believe art is a powerful force for igniting creativity, economic development and bringing community together. Just 2 days in to this 4 day event with 20 performances from Chicago, Atlanta, Columbus, Ann Arbor and local, I am reminded that there is profound power when creativity is provided space to breathe and connect. When given space, both from within our selves and literally, creative arts can ignite, inspire and empower all of us to open our selves to a fresh breath of creative out of the box thinking, collaboration and problem solving.  Only half way through the event and with 2 more days to go, I’ve already been moved in unique ways by these ‘edgy’ one of a kind performances I likely would never have experienced in more traditional art settings. Whether it was listening to and watching the captivating Identity Cubed and their unique percussion ensemble using instruments and making sounds I’ve never heard before, or Hope Arthur and her 20 piece orchestra weaving unique vocals and instrumental melodies together  magnificently or dAnce.Kontemporary sharing a truly beautiful story of love through dance in ‘Cupcakes to Heartache’….every performance, in its own unique way truly provided me with a new experience.

My experiences the last few days remind me to continue exploring areas that are new to me and may not be linear, clear or overtly connected to my own growth on the surface. From a business perspective, I saw the connection of arts as a tool for social impact at a community level. However, if I had not engaged on a personal level as an audience member, I would have missed an immense opportunity to spark my own creativity. As I continually beg the question of how I can more effectively be a force for social change in my work and life, Fringe Fest has reminded me that there is a powerful ripple effect when creativity is shared that allows each of us to create our own space within for creativity to flow. As I experience creativity, I create space for creativity and by doing so my capacity for developing creative opportunities for social impact is only enhanced.

All shows mentioned above and a broad list of others are on today and through Sunday. Check out and follow us on twitter: @fwfringe and on Facebook/FWFringe  for performance times. All tickets $5 with 100% proceeds to performers. Cash only. Food truck and cash bar on site. Special thanks to Jason Markzon and Fernando Tarango for their vision, leadership and countless hours bringing this to fruition in Fort Wayne as well as WunderKammer Company for offering the space for Fort Wayne Fringe to come to life!

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