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Fringe File, #28: Graphs and Charts, Part 1

A mosaic of different graphs of Fringe Festival sold-out attendance data.

It’s been one week since the 2017 Minnesota Fringe Festival closed its doors and the Fringe staff are still tallying and double-checking festival data. While a fuller report on the festival box office is still forthcoming, here are six figures and charts that illustrate one attention-grabbing part of the festival: productions that sold out at least one show.

Although sell-outs aren’t everything, they do graphically illustrate how the day of the week (and time of the festival) impacts attendance. During Week 1, the number of sellouts on Thursday (Day 1, 2 sellouts) and Friday (Day 2, 1 sellout) is relatively smaller compared to those on Saturday (Day 3, 7 sellouts) and Sunday (Day 4, 12 sellouts).

It’s important to note that weekend days have more performance slots (7) than weekdays (4), and that the second Friday has one additional slot (for a total of 5); however, there is certainly a prominent spike as word of mouth and critical reviews spreads about hot shows.

Some Fringe producers refer to the 5:30 PM Monday slot “the kiss of death” due to the difficulty drawing audiences to this time. Here, the general problem of drawing audiences on a Monday after a busy weekend is illustrated with the steep plunge in the number of sold-out performances. A show that builds momentum during the opening weekend can still do well; one of the two shows that sold out on Monday (Day 5), Broad Sex in the Twin Cities, reached its daily sales peak for the festival with its sellout; the other, Blackout Improv, followed its second-performance sell-out with a sellout on Monday as well.

Although festival exhaustion is certainly present on the last day of the festival (Day 11, also a Sunday), in this case the number of sellouts appears to have been limited by the clustering of sold-out productions at the Rarig-Xperimental and Ritz Studio spaces, which limited these productions’ influence during the encore slot. It also reflects the departure of several touring ensembles whose schedules did not allow for a second Sunday performance.

This graph shows the total number of sellouts (red, top) over time against the number of daily sellouts (blue, bottom).
This bar graph shows the distribution of sold-out productions in terms of sellout numbers. Notably, 10 of the 13 productions that sold out only 1 performance did so on a weekend day (Friday, Saturday, or Sunday), suggesting a combination of prior promotion, word of mouth, and sheer number of performance choices combining to bring out audiences.
This pie chart illustrates the same information as in the above bar chart.
The most popular shows (as measured by sold-out performances) appear to command a very large audience influence. However, roughly 62% of all sold-out performances took place at the Ritz Studio and the Rarig-Xperimental space – two small venues, seating 67 and 70, respectively.
Some 18% of the 167 productions at the 2017 Minnesota Fringe Festival had at least one sold-out performance.
Basil Considine
Basil Considine is the Twin Cities Arts Reader's Performing Arts Editor and the Senior Classical Music and Drama Critic. Before joining the Arts Reader, he was the Twin Cities Daily Planet's Resident Classical Music and Drama Critic and a contributing writer for The Boston Music Intelligencer. He holds a PhD in Music and Drama from Boston University, an MTS in Sacred Music from the BU School of Theology, and a BA in Music and Theatre from the University of San Diego.
http://basilconsidine.org
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