Inspired by AsSeenonCCTV‘s blog earlier this week on mobile presence at the Edinburgh Fringe, I decided to write about my own observations at the Minnesota Fringe Festival. In short, Twitter and QR codes.

Online word of mouth. In my view Twitter really took off this year at the Fringe, providing an online version of talking to the people next to you in line. The #mnfringe hashtag was very active (if Topsy is right, there were 2714 mentions of mnfringe during the ten days of the festival). In addition to the expected show promotions, I was happy to see tweets about traffic, parking, and other logistics from Fringe attendees. People used the hashtag to express frustrations, and in return, others could say that frustrations were heard, dealt with, and resolved to the extent possible.

It’s not remotely a new thought, but I really appreciated the online experience possible via the hashtag. Regardless of who you follow, who you’re Facebook friends with, or who you physically stand next to in line, you can hear what others are saying. For me, that online word of mouth enriched the overall festival.

QR codes seem to be everywhere this summer, but I didn’t see many of them at the Fringe. It’s entirely possible I missed them. The only place I remember seeing them (and that’s part of it, right?) was on the program for Cat. Instead of bios for each cast member, there was a QR code linking to the bio and a short video. I listened to part of one of the videos, but the line was moving into the theater, so I didn’t play the others. I enjoyed what I heard and if I still have the program, I’ll probably go back and watch the other videos.

To me the lack of QR codes is fine. I enjoy them when used well, but just linking to the Fringe website, or to information about the show, isn’t very useful to people who are already at the Fringe or at that particular show. Perhaps there could be a good use for year-round companies producing at the Fringe: a direct link to sign up for emails, a discount for future productions, something else forward-looking and fun?

I didn’t see much mobile presence outside of social networks, but as a festival comprised of shows in theaters, that doesn’t surprise me. Audiences aren’t allowed to have phones out during the shows, so live tweeting or other interactive behaviours aren’t an option.

I did enjoy the daily challenges of @TCTheater, a local podcaster. Tagged #mnfringe, these usually involved getting a photo with someone – promoting interaction IRL and via Twitter!

Daily challenge met: hug a volunteer or staff manager!

Quick note: I have been an audience member and performer at the Minnesota Fringe Festival for over ten years. I know many of the performers, audience members, volunteers and staff involved, but this post, the observations and the opinions, are entirely my own.

Did you attend the Minnesota Fringe Festival? What did you think? I only saw a fraction of the 168 shows, were others doing things I missed? What are your experiences at other festivals?



Filed under Arts audiences

2 responses to “#mnfringe

  1. Hi. I’m Ben; I produced CAT. I have some QR insight:

    First, we were going to use them last year, but thought it was probably too early. I think we were 100% correct. Last year, it was like “QR what?” and this year — like you said — they were all over the place (on the back of every ticket, for cryin’ out loud).

    We normally don’t include bios in our programs, so we thought it’d be useful to link the QR codes to the bios. We had the nifty little videos, so we thought we could link to both the vid and the bio (which we did – the bio was directly beneath the video).

    We had 4 artists with a QR code in the program. In total, the QR codes were scanned 86 times. We had 500+ tickets issued.

    So, what does that mean? I have no idea. They were used…a little bit. Will we use them again? Sure. Like I said, we don’t normally squish bios into our programs anyway, so it’s a way that maybe *some* people can read a bio (and a fun video) while they wait in line.

    Love always,

    • Thanks, Ben! This is my “duh” moment – I completely forgot about the QR codes on the tickets. I noticed them at first, clicked through, etc., but forgot about them when writing up the blog.

      I think I enjoyed the videos even more after seeing Cat. They provided my personal preference in QR codes: informative (the bios) and fun (the videos). Some longevity, too – my phone saved the URLs, so I could just watch them without the codes in front of me.

      Thanks for your comments,

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