Perform With Us


Applications for the 2017 festival have now closed. 2018 Festival info will be announced in mid-December.


General Fringe Performance Information

So, you are thinking of performing in the Chicago Fringe Festival? Great! We would love to have YOU come and play with us. Yes, YOU! First, we’d like to give you an idea of what to expect.

Real Talk 1:

The Chicago Fringe Festival is an emerging, small festival, which takes place in a Northwest neighborhood of Chicago called Jefferson Park. There are very good transportation options so you can experience the fun of the CTA. Our venues typically seat around 35-70 patrons. They are often alternative spaces without the benefit of advanced lighting and sound. Sometimes they are hot. Our average payout is $650. How can we best say it? We’re fringey.

Real Talk 2:

Our artists have fun at Chicago Fringe. You are never just a number at our festival. CFF excels at creating a pop-up community of artists, patrons, and volunteers. With unlimited rush comps to other shows, you will have the opportunity to see lots and lots of other artist’s shows. You will have the chance to present your piece and get great feedback. You will meet new friends and see something that might alter your perspective.

In conclusion:

If you are coming to CFF in order to make a bunch of money or attract a crowd of hundreds, we simply can’t guarantee that. (Though we are working on it! You could be one of the standout 2018 shows that brings in those crowds!) Consider applying to CFF if you are ready to spend some days in early September in beautiful Chicago learning about your craft, meeting incredible people, and having an unforgettable time.

Two Ways To Apply To Perform At The Fringe

First Come, First Served

The Chicago Fringe Festival reserves 25% (13 shows) of its available slots for First Come, First Serve participants. Participation Fees are due up front to reserve a First Come, First Serve slot. 2017 fees are listed below under Venue Selection. How does it actually work? At 10am the application link will go live on our homepage. After paying the application fee, you will be directed to the application which can be filled out in a slightly more leisurely manner. The first 13 groups to pay the application fee will be contacted of their FCFS Status. They will then have 24 hours in which to pay their full participation fee (minus the $25 application fee) in order to secure their spot. If they fail to make the payment, they will forfeit their FCFS spot and be entered into the general lottery. We will then contact the next group who applied.

Performance Lottery

After the first 25% of performance have been filled by First-Come, First-Serve, the remaining 75% of our participants will be selected by lottery at a public event in March. There will be sub-lotteries to account for geographical and diversity concerns, as well as the KIDS FRINGE. Any artists not selected through the lottery will then go on a waiting list. Many, many artists come off of the waiting list. May the odds be ever in your favor!

The Lottery Fee is $25. A sample of the application is available for your reference:

Venue Selection

Depending on availability of venues, we plan to offer a “large venue” option for our performers (up to 99 seats). An additional $100 fee will guarantee you a venue with extra seating capacity however these slots will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis after the Lottery. These slots are not available for dance shows or KIDS FRINGE participants as those have special needs which are better addressed in different venues. In 2017 our participant fee rates were:

  • 3 performances small venue ($250)
  • 3 performances large venue ($350)
  • 5 performances small venue ($400)*
  • 5 performances large venue ($500)*
  • 7 performances small venue ($550)*
  • 7 performances large venue ($650)*

*must be available both weekends

Important Info

What is the Chicago Fringe Festival?

The Chicago Fringe Festival is a not-for-profit organization that produces an annual festival. The festival consists of performances from individuals and groups over the course of 11 days. In 2017, we accepted 50 performance groups.

When is the Chicago Fringe Festival?

The Chicago Fringe Festival takes place on Labor Day weekend and the following weekend. The technical rehearsals will take place in the days leading up to the festival. Each company will have one three-hour tech rehearsal.

When can I apply to perform?

Our application process will begin in mid-December. The deadline to submit is mid-February.

Requirements to perform

There are two considerations for your piece to qualify for the festival:

  • Piece must be 80% choreographed or scripted. No solely improvisational shows are permitted.
  • Piece must be 45-60 minutes in length and able to be set up and struck within 10 minutes. KIDS FRINGE pieces should be 30-50 minutes in length and set up and strike times remain 10 minutes.

Deadline and Timeline

The deadline to apply for the Chicago Fringe Festival is in mid-February. The shows that are selected will be contacted by email in the following week. Shows that are not selected will be put on the waiting list and also notified by email. Shows that are selected will need to pay a participation fee of $250 – $650 (2017 rates) and complete the participation packet by April. Failure to submit payment and paperwork by that date will result in forfeiture of a participant slot. Budget accordingly.

What benefits do I receive from the festival?

  • Participants will have three, five, or seven performances over the course of the festival. They will automatically be included in the CFF printed program, receive high visibility on the CFF website and general visibility throughout CFF marketing.
  • Automatic inclusion in the CFF printed program, high visibility on the CFF website and general visibility throughout CFF marketing.
  • Full box office services and a booth operator to run lights and/or sound.
  • Assistance in securing free or discounted arrangements (for those who need lodging).
  • Rush passes to view other works in the festival.
  • 100% of the net box office revenue for their shows.