A meeting of creative minds…
The Fringe Forum was joined by Bruce Webb, Ray and Caroline Foulk and hosted by our supreme lord and master, Jack Whitewood.
There were some interesting notions from Ray Foulk towards the idea of expanding the Ventnor Fringe; similar to Edinburgh Fringe. Though it seems that there is little desire or ambition to take anything away from our small town.
“I don’t see Ventnor Fringe leaving Ventnor” says Jack.
There was then a mention that Ventnor is a very different place to the rest of the Island, which to its credit, it is. The discussion moves onto how Ventnor has had a quick succession of events and venues spring up in a short time and this marvellous seaside settlement is regarded as a cultural hub of the Island. Bruce explains that he lives in Sandown and despite having lots of creative friends there, Sandown is not regarded as high on the list of places to stay. Thus bringing the idea of expanding the Fringe back around. The natural succession of conversation then turns to the substantial lack of accommodation here in Ventnor. It is noted that places like Sandown and Shanklin have it in abundance; thus a way to extend the tourism benefits of the Fringe.
The problem with accommodation is also largely down to the time of year. The height of summer is a notoriously difficult time to book accommodation. It is especially difficult to find rooms for 400 performers in this town of 6,000. They dismissed the idea of moving the Festival to another month to remove this problem; as such this will be an on-going problem.
Concerns were raised that with growing popularity and demand, people are worried that VFringe would lose its friendly boutique-esk atmosphere. These concerns were met with an uncertainty on how they plan to deal with demand but Jack explains that they have no interest in expanding to a commercial level. There were laughs toward the idea that Fosters would ever sponsor the event; they never will. Jack feels that the accessibility of the Fringe is something they wish to maintain and develop.
Bruce highlights the IOW Film Festival outlook; That even if they wanted big films, they don’t have the facilities in Ventnor and because of this, they’d rarely succumb to any kind of sponsorship. This means that the threat of the Fringe accepting any unethical financial backing (becoming inaccessible; particularly to non-theatre goers) is made redundant.
There was an interesting correlation between Ray and Jack’s very different festivals. Despite Ray’s original IOW Pop Festival being on a very grand scale, he still maintains a distinct passion to share music with the world. It seems his interest in the Fringe stems from the organisers’ similar thirst for all forms of art and culture. Both trying to stay away from the world of big conglomerates, though I think our Fringe has a little way to go before Dominoe’s come a-knockin’.