INTERNATIONAL APPLICATION INFORMATION
Applications accepted December 10, 2013 – January 30, 2014
Read carefully before filling out attached application
Because our international applicants have unique questions and concerns and face some different circumstances than do our local and national applicants, we have prepared this special International Application General Information page. We hope you will find it helpful. While we do not wish to discourage you from applying to participate in FringeNYC, we do want any companies that choose to apply to have all of the relevant facts at their disposal.
Please read over the following information and return a signed acknowledgement form along with your support materials. The earlier and more thoroughly you’ve digested this information, the better! One of the things that is of primary importance for you to understand is that we work under extremely different circumstances than many festivals in other countries or even other places in the US. Some international participants have had difficulties resulting from mistaken expectations in the past, and our goal is to prevent those in the future by providing the clearest, most detailed description of how the festival is run, how the visa application process works, and what costs you can expect to incur.
GENERAL FringeNYC INFORMATION
In the summer of 2014, The Eighteenth Annual New York International Fringe Festival will present approximately 200 national and international theater and performance companies in 20 venues located across downtown New York City. In 2013, nearly 70,000 people attended FringeNYC.
RESPONSIBILITIES: If your show is accepted to the festival, you are given a slot in which to produce your show. We are NOT producing your show, we are merely presenting it. You or your producing organization must hire your own cast, crew, and staff, secure your own rights, and run your own rehearsals, etc. Yes, we have a vested interest in your success. We’ve built this festival in order to give you the best chance possible. But we cannot handle details of your show. Please do not call or email and ask our two staff members or any of our volunteers to do the “legwork” to make your show a success. We cannot arrange rehearsal space, housing, transportation, or printing for you. You’ll have to be responsible for that yourselves.
A.C.R.: In order to participate in FringeNYC, you’ll need an Authorized Company Representative. If your show is accepted to participate, this will be explained more thoroughly in the participants’ materials. But the A.C.R. will have duties at the box office, and cannot be a person who is performing in your show, or is involved in the performance in any way. Some international participants find it easier to find a local A.C.R.. This is fine, but you might need to compensate this person in some way, so you should anticipate this when you are doing your budgeting.
BOARD OPERATOR: It is also necessary for you to provide everyone necessary to perform your show. This includes stage managers and board operators. Some of our internationals have found it easier to hire these people locally. Again, that is fine with us, but you’ll need to compensate these people in some way. Generally you can count on paying a board operator $25 per performance.
VENUES: Our venues (performance spaces) range in size from 30 seats to 500 seats. We do not own our venues, we rent them for the weeks of the festival. Each show is assigned to a venue based upon technical needs and the potential to share resources. International participants are not given any preference or priority in venue assignment. It is possible that you will end up assigned to a small venue, particularly if you have a small show.
TECHNICAL / PRODUCTION: You will need to keep the technical requirements of your show very simple. The venues are equipped with only very basic lights and sound. Storage space (if any) in the venues is minimal; since this space is shared with all shows in that venue you must take props, set pieces and costumes away with you after each performance. Each company will have only one cue to cue technical rehearsal in the venue.
SCHEDULING: Your show will be scheduled into one venue for the length of the festival. Most shows will receive approximately five performances over the course of the entire festival. International shows do not, necessarily, receive more performances. Each show within a venue is scheduled equally. Performances are approximately between 2pm and Midnight on weekdays, and between Noon and Midnight on weekends. There is only a 30 minute change-over time between shows. Your curtain time will vary from day to day in order to that ensure all shows receive an equal amount of prime performance times. Keep in mind that when you are striking or setting up your show, another show is also striking or setting up. Minimalism rules.
In order to save money on housing costs, often our national and international participants will ask to have their performances condensed within the first half or second half of the festival. This is possible, but must be requested. If it isn’t requested, we might schedule your five performances spread out over the 16 day festival. Remember, YOU should tell US when you are available to perform. If you receive notification that you have been accepted to perform at the festival, you can begin to check on travel reservations. DO NOT wait for us to assign your performance times, as you will not know those until quite late. You make your arrangements and then tell us when you arrive, and when you depart, and we will arrange your performance schedule accordingly. You will need to be prepared to provide this information as part of your FringeNYC Registration, due in early May.
BOX OFFICE & TICKETING: FringeNYC handles all aspects of ticketing and box office. In 2013, full priced tickets were $15.00 in advance, and $18.00 at the door. There are some discount tickets available. It is possible ticket prices will increase for the 2014 festival.
COMPENSATION TO COMPANIES: In 2013, participants received a fee of $8.75 for each full priced advance ($15) ticket sold, and $10.70 for each full priced ticket sold at the door ($18). Participants will receive a proportional percentage of ticket income income in 2014.
PUBLICITY: FringeNYC will publicize the festival and coordinate overall press relations, including interviews and critic attendance at performances critics have chosen to review. You will be asked to submit publicity photos & PR materials so that we can send complete press packages to print, online, and broadcast media. You are responsible for publicizing your own show through your own press releases, mailers, handbills, busking and/or posters. The more you promote your show, the larger your potential audience.
PRESS: We do not control the press in New York City. We cannot guarantee that you’ll receive a review of your show. In fact, one of the reasons that we started FringeNYC was because of the lack of attention paid to off-off Broadway productions here in New York City. In general, those of us working off-off Broadway struggle for a listing or a mention of our show. We all enjoy a much better chance of getting a review during FringeNYC than we do during any other time of the year. Your show MIGHT get a review. It MIGHT be positive. It might also not be a good review. It is not under our control.
We also do not control when the reviews will run. In past years, some of our international participants were disappointed that we were not able to “tell” the New York Times to publish their review before their last performance. Please know that we cannot “tell” any of the local publications what to do. They are not in any way associated with FringeNYC or the Present Company. We feel very fortunate that our festival receives the kind of press that it does. But still only a handful of our 200+ shows will receive reviews in the major outlets.
HOUSING: FringeNYC does not provide housing (billeting) for our participants. Housing (and everything else!) is very expensive in New York City. We will provide a resource list of hotels and hostels that are in New York City, but please keep in mind that even the most modest housing in New York City is still costly. You may attempt to arrange for out of town artists to stay with local artists. We must warn you, however, that this very, very rarely happens. Most of us who live in New York have very, very small apartments and no room for visitors.
In 2009, we were able to arrange a discounted hotel rate at a local hotel. They offered a rate of $189 per night (+ hotel tax, 13.625% and city tax $3.50 = $218.25) for a double room, and allowed up to five people to stay (in two double beds and one pullout double couch). This meant that if five people were in one room, they each could pay as little as $29 per night. It was an astonishing deal and there is no guarantee that we’ll be able to arrange this again. In general, New York City hotel rooms start at around $250 per night plus tax, and allow a maximum of two people per room.
INSURANCE: In order to participate in The New York International Fringe Festival, you must obtain (and maintain) either a workers compensation policy or a volunteer accident policy, which covers your cast, crew, staff, and anyone associated with your show. The Present Company will have insurance which covers the staff, crew, and volunteers of FringeNYC and the entire FringeNYC audience. But you must cover your show and anyone associated with your show. This is the same insurance that Actors’ Equity Association requires. For FringeNYC 2013, we were able to arrange a discount policy for our participants. The total cost was $135. We have no guarantees that we’ll be able to get this rate again, but it is useful as a frame of reference.
EMAIL / INTERNET: Due to budgetary constraints and time differences, we rely heavily on email. It is necessary that you have a working email address that you can access frequently in order to be successful in the festival. It is also necessary that you be able to access the internet in order to check for updates to our participants’ website.
VOLUNTEERS: Our staff is comprised almost entirely of volunteers. This is one of the reasons that we rely heavily upon email. When you send an email to our staff, they will often have to wait until after work to answer it. Please understand this when setting your expectations of response time.
EXPENSES: Here is a sample budget that we’ve put together for your information. Remember, many of these budgetary figures are approximate. We have not included food or travel costs or the costs associated with producing your show because those can vary widely from country to country and show to show.
$320 Visa Application Fee
$ 30 Courier Fee
$250 Actors’ Equity Association Fee
$700 FringeNYC Participation Fee
$1100 Housing (five people in one room for five nights)
? Props? Set? Costumes? Shipping?
? Taxis / Subway Fare
$125 Board Operator
$ 2900 minimum total
So, as you can see from all of the above, participating in FringeNYC can be an expensive proposition. However, it remains the least expensive way to self-produce in New York. We all work together as volunteers to make the festival happen, and we enjoy an audience of approximately 70,000 people. But we want you to have a good experience, so we want you to have as much information as possible so that you have realistic expectations before you even apply to participate in FringeNYC. Keep in mind that your costs will, in all likelihood, exceed your income. Even IF you sold every seat of a forty-seat theatre at full price (not likely) your income in 2013 would have been as follows:
$8.75 per ticket x 40 seats x 5 performances = $1750
This would not even cover the above expenses, which do not include food or travel to and from New York. So, we do not participate in FringeNYC for the money. Please do not come to FringeNYC expecting to make money or live off of your box office income while you are here. Despite your experiences to the contrary at other festivals, it is unlikely that even the most popular show in the biggest venue will make money at FringeNYC. We are not a “funded” festival. We put all of our participation fees toward the cost of the festival and then sell advertising and seek donations in order to cover the other 70% of the budget. The New York International Fringe Festival is the largest multi-arts festival in North America and is a vibrant festival full of passionate artists from all over the world sharing their work. It can be a joy to be a part of, if you are informed and have realistic expectations about what it is that FringeNYC offers. We are much different than many festivals – even other fringe festivals – and we want to make sure you know and that if you are accepted to participate in the festival, you share this information with your cast and crew.
EXCLUSIVITY: If you are accepted to FringeNYC, part of our agreement prohibits the performance of your show anywhere in New York, New Jersey or Connecticut anytime during the months of June, July, or August. This is primarily due to the fact that we depend upon our small portion of your box office income in order to pay for your participation in the festival. Performances elsewhere within our audience area greatly impact ticket sales to FringeNYC and the desirability of your show (as do reviews). Please keep this restriction in mind when accepting other invitations to perform your show during these months.
In order to participate in FringeNYC, an international applicant must complete TWO steps. The first is to apply to FringeNYC and be accepted. The second is to apply for a US Visa and have it approved.
STEP ONE: FringeNYC APPLICATION & ACCEPTANCE
APPLICATION: FringeNYC uses a juried application process to insure the festival is a cross-section of the best emerging performance from around the world. The application process is highly competitive. This does not mean that because you are new or inexperienced that your chances of being accepted to FringeNYC are limited. In fact, an important part of our mission in producing FringeNYC is to create a community that provides an opportunity for the untried and the untested, as well as a gathering place for lively discussion and interaction among artists and audience.
Talk to us in your cover letter. Tell us why you want to be a part of FringeNYC, and how your work will benefit from being involved. Organization, inspiration, passion and creativity are important to us – fancy folders and expensive office supplies are not. Please be aware that the adjudication panel never sees what kind of folder or binder you use. However, it is a good idea to use a padded envelope or suitable box for mailing video and other support materials, which might get damaged in transit.
INTERNATIONAL APPLICATION DEADLINE: International Applications must have a postmark on or before January 30, 2013 and must be accompanied by a non-refundable $30 application fee, in the form of a certified check, cashiers check, or money order in US Dollars payable to The Present Company.
PLEASE NOTE: No personal checks or company checks will be accepted. Be sure to write the title of your show and your application number (not your company name) on the memo line of your certified check, cashiers check, or money order, and make it payable to The Present Company. If your application is deemed incomplete, and/or contains a personal check or company check, it will not be adjudicated, nor will it be returned to you. Please submit only complete applications. Additional support materials may not be added to your application after the deadline.
Due to the number of applicants and the size of our staff, please DO NOT call or email to see if your application has been received and/or is complete. If you want confirmation of receipt, you should send your application via certified mail, return receipt requested, or some other method that you can track (i.e. Federal Express or UPS).
If you are submitting more than one show, each show must have its own application, support materials, and application fee and be submitted separately with its own postmark.
We’re sorry, but none of your materials can be returned to you. DO NOT send original / irreplaceable materials. DO NOT send return addressed stamped envelopes.
ACCEPTANCE: As we’ve mentioned, there are two steps required in order for an International company to participate in FringeNYC. The first is to submit an International Application and be accepted to the festival. All adjudicated applicants will receive acceptance status notification (i.e. accepted, alternated, or declined). International Applicants who are accepted to the festival will receive an acceptance pending completion of the second step of the process (i.e. Visa approval) for your company. Notification of FringeNYC acceptance status will BEGIN to be MAILED to International applicants on or about March 1, 2014.
At this time, if you are accepted to the festival, you will need to complete step two of the process, wherein we will complete and submit your visa application (see below). International companies must also submit Visa application fees at this time (see below) so that we can begin the second step toward your participation in FringeNYC.
At the end of April, you will receive a participants’ packet. This packet must be completed and returned to us by our deadline, which is generally on or about May 15, 2014, and accompanied by a non-refundable $700 participation fee, in the form of a certified check, cashiers check or money order. International applicants must make payments by bank money order in US funds, collectible in a US bank, or by wire transfer. No personal or company checks will be accepted. Be sure to write the title of your show and your application number on the memo line of your check or money order, and make check and money orders payable to The Present Company.
If accepted to the festival, each company and author (where applicable) will be required to agree to contribute 2% of THEIR gross revenues above $20,000 derived from future productions of the play for a period of seven years after the close of the festival. This clause will be set out more fully in the Participant's Agreement, and is a way of making the festival self-sufficient. Participants in FringeNYC benefit from prior FringeNYC participants’ adherence to this clause, via a reduced participation fee and other subsidized programs.
STEP TWO: US VISA APPLICATION AND APPROVAL
VISAS: If you are accepted to FringeNYC, in order for your group to travel into the United States and participate in the festival you must have an approved US Visa in your hand before boarding a plane to travel to this country. There is a very specific process that must be followed in order to obtain visa approval in this country, and some of the rules and procedures are continuously undergoing changes.
Upon acceptance to the festival, The Present Company, producers of The New York International Fringe Festival, will apply for a P-3 visa on behalf of your entire group. We will do this by filing an I-129 (Petition for a Non-Immigrant Worker) form and all of the necessary attachments. It is necessary that we file the appropriate documentation on your behalf because when we split the box office income from your FringeNYC performances with you, we are, in essence, acting as your group's employer. Your group will not be allowed to participate in FringeNYC without a valid US Visa. The only exception to this rule is for performers who hold a valid US Greencard.
In order to file the documentation in a timely matter and give your group the best possibility of being reviewed and perhaps approved in time to pick up your visa and attend the festival, we MUST receive the required information from you as a part of your FringeNYC International Application by the January 15th (postmark) deadline. The information must be complete and legible. Because the P-3 visa is a GROUP visa, we cannot file the visa for 9 out of 10 members of your group, for example, while you wait for one member to give you their passport number. We must have the complete, legible information for ALL members of your group in order to file the documentation on your behalf. We cannot be held responsible for not being able to file timely information if we haven't received it from you. You will be giving your group the best chance of being approved if you include all of the required information with your International Application as a part of STEP ONE. If this is impossible, your next best chance for timely approval is to adhere to all deadlines and cooperate with us in a timely manner when we request additional information from you. Your timely reply can sometimes mean the difference between being able to come to the festival or not. That is why we are asking for your visa information as a part of your application to FringeNYC – complete visa information is a strong indicator of preparedness to come to FringeNYC.
One of the most important pieces of information that we'll be asking you for is the passport number and expiration date for each member of your company. It is necessary that we have a valid passport number for each member of your cast and crew in order to start to apply for the visa required to enter this country. Due to the amount of time it now takes to obtain a visa, we need these passport numbers as soon as possible. Therefore, if we must wait for a member of your team to obtain a passport, it becomes impossible for us to file the necessary visa paperwork in time to make getting a visa prior to the festival even a possibility. If any member of your group does not currently hold a valid passport, you may apply to FringeNYC and indicate what information is missing. HOWEVER, we STRONGLY suggest that you begin the process of obtaining one for them as soon as possible, even before you’ve learned if you’ve been accepted to the festival. If you have applied to FringeNYC, please immediately begin to ensure that each member of your group has a valid passport. Any missing passport numbers must be provided immediately upon acceptance to the festival.
An important part of the International Application is the Visa Information Form, which provides a place for you to provide the required information. You will receive this form via email, and then you must make a copy of this form for EACH MEMBER of your company, and send us your completed Visa Information Forms along with the completed application.
The P-3 visa is for culturally specific groups. We will require all support materials and evidence that your group is representative of your country's culture. Reviews, published materials, etc. that provide evidence that you are a company from France doing work that is uniquely French (for example) is what the US Government requires for a P-3 Visa. Please collect these materials now, so that you can include them with your application support materials.
There are fees associated with filing a visa application on your behalf which your group will be required to pay immediately upon acceptance to the festival:
$320 VISA APPLICATION FEE: The Visa Application fee imposed by the USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Service) (formerly the INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service of the U.S. Government)) and is currently $320.
$30 COURIER FEE: We must file your visa application via a registered courier service like Federal Express in order to track the shipment and confirm delivery. Therefore, we ask for $30 to cover part of these expenses. Please keep in mind that we prepare your visa application as volunteers and have even secured a volunteer attorney to help in the preparation.
$250 ACTORS' EQUITY ASSOCIATION LETTER OF CONSULTATION FEE: The USCIS requires us to obtain a letter of consultation from Actors Equity Association (AEA) on your behalf and submit it with the Visa Application. Actors Equity Association has imposed a fee of $250 per letter. We must pass this fee along to you as well. The total of these fees ($320 Visa Application Fee + $30 Courier Fee + $250 AEA Fee = $600) is due prior to filing of the Visa Application, which is generally immediately after your acceptance to the festival. You should be prepared to submit these fees at the beginning of March.
$700 PARTICIPATION FEE: In addition to the visa fees detailed above, our international participants must also pay the same participation fee that our national and local participants pay. Please keep in mind that we are not a fully funded festival. Each of the participating companies pays a small fee to help pay for the festival. There is more information about the financial aspects of participating in FringeNYC above.
Once we have filed all of your information (a visa application consists of an entire package prepared on behalf of your company) we will have to wait to hear from the USCIS (a division of the Office of Homeland Security).
It is important to note that we here at the Present Company do not control, in any way, the Immigration and Naturalization Service and/or the Office of Homeland Security and/or the USCIS. The New York International Fringe Festival (FringeNYC) is not a division of or in any way affiliated with the USCIS or the US government. We do not control the outcome or timing of adjudication of the visa application.
As part of the Visa application, we'll need to tell the Immigration and Naturalization Service where you'd like your approved visa to be sent. We recommend that you find the address of the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate as soon as possible so that you can provide that information as a part of your application.
Please also consider that the visa will likely need to be picked up in July. If your company will be on the road in July, that will have a bearing upon where you’ll need to pick up your approved visa. Plan ahead. A visa that is waiting for you in Berlin while your company is in Frankfurt is useless, and would mean that your company would need to travel from Frankfurt to Berlin and THEN to New York.
We also recommend that you contact that Embassy or Consulate in order to find out the procedure to pick up your approved visa. The rules and procedures of how and when to pick up an approved visa vary by country. In some countries, it is necessary to obtain an appointment at the Embassy to pick up your visa once it has been approved. In some countries, you'll need to be interviewed at that appointment. Who is required to appear at that appointment or interview and what documentation they must provide at the time also varies. It is possible that your entire group will have to appear at one appointed time. It is also possible that an ADDITIONAL fee will be required in order to obtain you approved visa. For some of you, the closest US Embassy or Consulate is hours away, so having to make several trips is time consuming and expensive. Please plan ahead and do your research so that we have the best possible chance for success. In some countries it can take weeks or even months to even get an appointment. While we are filing and processing the paperwork here in the US, we need you to be doing the “groundwork” in your home country. We do not know (and couldn’t possibly keep up with) how things will work on your end. We have no way of determining what is required. Please make sure to find out so that there are no surprises.
It is also possible that your visa will be denied. It is important to note that we have no control or influence over which visas are approved and which are denied. The best that we can all do is to provide honest and thorough answers to all of the questions asked, and submit all of the required information as early as possible.
If your visa is denied, or is not approved in time, the AEA Fee and Visa Application fee are both NON-REFUNDABLE. That money DOES NOT come back to the Present Company. It is gone and will not be returned by either party. The fees are for processing the visa application, not for approval.
The USCIS has also now instituted a “Premium Processing Service”. For an ADDITIONAL fee of $1000, we can file form I-907 (Request for Premium Processing Service) with your visa forms. This can be done either with the original forms, or later, as long as the status of the original forms is still “pending”.
The Premium Processing Service does NOT guarantee approval. Premium Processing Service guarantees 15 calendar day processing of certain employment-based petitions or applications. If you request Premium Processing Service, within 15 calendar days of the date of receipt, the USCIS will issue an approval notice, notice of intent to deny, request for evidence, or issue a notice if an investigation for fraud on the relating petition or application is deemed necessary.
It must be stated that this expedite fee does NOT make sense financially. To pay an ADDITIONAL $1000 in order to TRY to attend a Fringe Festival is not recommended by us, unless you have funding from another source and won’t bear the expense personally. It is HIGHLY unlikely that you will make any money at this festival in the first place (depending, of course, upon many, many factors). When you add an additional $1000 to the budget, it becomes impossible to contemplate any kind of profit. However, profit is, as we know, not the only reason to want to participate in FringeNYC and we’ve discovered too far down the road in the past that some of our international applicants would have preferred to pay the Premium Processing Fee, so we feel compelled to at least tell you about it.
If you would like to know more about the USCIS and the P-3 Visa and the Premium Processing Service, we strongly recommend that you go to:
IMPORTANT NOTE: In order to process your visa application, the USCIS may ask for more evidence, interview us, and/or conduct an investigation. If you give us false information or documents, misrepresent facts, or otherwise engage in fraud, the USCIS will take appropriate action. This means they will not only deny your request, but you may lose current and future immigration benefits, and you may face penalties including criminal and/or civil prosecution leading to fines and/or imprisonment. MORE IMPORTANTLY, the Present Company is taking responsibility for you by filing the application on your behalf, so your actions may have an impact an all of the other (and future) international participants in FringeNYC. Please bear this in mind.
Given the recent difficulties experienced not only by FringeNYC but many other arts organizations in this country, two of our advocacy organizations have created a site dedicated to the topic. It is full of well-researched information about the visa process and you might find it helpful as well:
So that is all of the information about visas. We know that it can be intimidating to read. It was intimidating to write! But we want to be sure you have read the information, so please sign the statement on the next to last page of the application, and mail it to us with your support materials and visa information forms as soon as possible.
WHAT YOU DO NOW:
1. Choose your show.
2. COMPLETELY fill out the application form ONLINE, in your browser.
3. REVIEW your completed application to make sure it is complete and correct.
4. Press CHECK FOR ERRORS AND SUBMIT. If errors are displayed, correct and press Check for Errors again.
5. If there are no errors, Press Finalize. You will receive a confirmation email
6. Print TWO COPIES of the confirmation email
7. Fill out the Visa Information Form (which you will receive via email) for EVERY member of your company.
8. Keep your confirmation email for your records.
8. Send in BOTH COPIES of the confirmation email, ALL of your Visa Information Forms,and with your non-refundable APPLICATION FEE (Certified check, cashiers check or money order made payable to The Present Company - include TITLE of your show and your APPLICATION NUMBER on application fee. International applicants must make payments by bank money order in U.S. Funds, collectible in a US Bank) and ONE COPY of any/all of the following support materials:
a. Cover letter
b. Script or adaptation of proposed project
c. Your best representative video on (Standard U.S. format (NTSC) please) DVD
d. Bios of all artists involved with your project.
e. Audio tape or CD of music (if applicable).
f. Any other support material you think relevant. Please label ALL items submitted with the TITLE of your show and your APPLICATION NUMBER. Please attach your application fee to the top of the first page of the top copy of your application and place ON TOP of all other items submitted.
g. Please write the TITLE of your show (from Question #2) and your ADJUDICATION CATEGORY (from Question #1) in either the return address area of your submission package or on the internal reference line provided by your express delivery carrier (i.e. Federal Express, UPS, etc.).
h. Your materials should be contained in one envelope, and postmarked by January 30th, 2014 or hand delivered by 6pm on January 30th, 2014 to:
The Present Company
520 Eighth Avenue, Ste. 311
New York, NY 10018-8906