Hamilton Fringe Festival goes digital amid COVID-19

Proving that artists are some of the most resilient and adaptive people out there, one of Hamilton’s biggest arts festivals has completely reinvented itself to fit in with the current realities of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Hamilton Fringe Festival, an 11-day annual extravaganza that takes over the downtown area with live theatre, comedy, dance, performance art, and beyond every summer, was set with a roster of over 50 unique performances to be presented in venues all over the city by local, national, and international artists of all kinds.

Then, of course, COVID-19 happened. Large gatherings were suddenly off the table for the foreseeable future, until it is once again safe for us all to share space en masse again.

That can’t stop the Hamilton Fringe, though. While all of the usual in-person programming has been pulled and the festival as we know it is on pause, the Fringe took this time to develop a totally digital replacement for the festival that still gives artists a platform and provides audiences with a safe, distant live performance experience from the comfort of their homes.

This replacement event, called What the Fest?!, will involve many of the artists originally selected to be part of the 2020 Hamilton Fringe Festival and will take place from July 21st to 26th this year.

The lineup of artists chosen for the Fringe this year now have the chance to pivot their performances to a digital format and help create a version of the Fringe that has never been done before in this way in the city.

The festival is doing this in three exciting ways. The first is a Digital Fringe Club, which will host free online events each day each day like games, performances, meetings with Hamilton artists, and even activities for the kids.

Then, there’s Stream Out Loud, which will be a series of ticketed presentations online – including theatre, music, comedy, radio dramas, and more – presented by Hamilton Fringe artists and that can be watched live from your screens at home.

Finally, and most intriguingly, is Skip the Glitches: a performance series that literally delivers live entertainment to your doorstep. Hamiltonians can order from a selection of short performances that will then be brought to you and performed outside of your house at a safe physical distance. How cool is that???

This exciting, innovative pivot of the 2020 Hamilton Fringe Festival not only allows one of the city’s most thriving arts events to stay alive this year, it also gives the city’s artists a much-needed lifeline during a time of so much professional uncertainty.

To learn more about What the Fest?!, presented by the Hamilton Fringe Festival, check out their website.

Lead image courtesy of @hamontfringe


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