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This article was published 30/7/2018 (413 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
On the heels of a weekend that saw the close of two major Manitoba arts festivals, both the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival and the Gimli Film Festival announced record-breaking numbers Monday.
The fringe fest broke its record in revenue over its 10-day run July 18-29 with $890,624 in box-office revenue returned to the performing companies. The total revenue represents a 1.75 per cent increase over last year, despite a slight drop in the attendance numbers: 103,251 this year compared to 104,908 in 2017 and 105,000 in 2016, which set the highest Winnipeg fringe attendance record yet.
This year, indoor ticketed attendance benefitted from 245 sold-out performances from 178 participating companies with 1,516 total indoor performances. Outdoor attendance came in between 75,000 to 80,000.
The slight decline in attendance numbers may be attributed in part to the drop in number of companies — 178 this year compared to 188 in 2017.
"We also had more paid tickets and fewer comps this year," festival executive producer Chuck McEwen says. "We had several thousand fewer complimentary tickets used, which may have lowered our (attendance) numbers.
"But we actually had more paid tickets this year," McEwen says. "Fifty-nine companies had at least one sold-out performance, which is 33 per cent of the total number of companies. That’s pretty impressive."
This year’s drop in the number of participating companies had to do with losing a main venue. "We added a 13th main indoor venue last year for our 30th anniversary, and this year, we went back to 12 main venues."
Weather was also a factor.
"Last year, it was hot and we had, I think, a couple of hours of rain for the entire festival," McEwen says. "This year, we lost the entire opening Thursday evening (because of rain) and in mid-fest on Wednesday, it rained all day until, like 10 p.m."
Another blow was the cancellation of the show by British comedy troupe The Pretend Men because of one of its members sustaining a back injury during a tech rehearsal.
"It was so disappointing," McEwen says. "It was their first time here and people wanted to see them and they just couldn’t do their show."
Next year’s festival will run July 17-28.
"Start booking your holidays," McEwen says.
The Manitoba Association of Playwrights presented the 17th annual Harry S. Rintoul Memorial Award for Best New Manitoban Play at the fringe to Duncan Cox, Tanner Manson and Ben Townsley for their comedy The Ballad of Johnny Boy, which played at MTC Up the Alley (Venue 2).
The other nominees included Dale Lakevold (Bill Pritchard’s Address to the Jury), Joseph Aragon and Heather Madill (Journey To Kalcedon Island) and Ken Gordon (True Blue).
The 2018 edition of the Gimli Film Festival broke a significant record in its five-day run July 25-29. For the first time, the attendance at the fest’s indoor screenings outpaced the attendance of its popular free beach screenings.
More than 5,000 filmgoers came to Gimli’s four indoor venues and total attendance broke 12,000 for the first time in the festival’s 18-year history. That represents a 11 per cent increase in total box office revenue, a 32 per cent increase in festival pass sales, and a 27 per cent increase in walk-up rush seating from 2017, according to festival manager Aaron Zeghers.
"The (indoor venues) are where we play the films that we’re so excited about," Zeghers says. "The contemporary films, the groundbreaking films, the award-winning films. So, we were so happy to see such strong indoor attendance. It shows the work of our programmers is really paying off."
The RBC Beach Screenings, while outpaced by the attendance of the indoor screenings, also managed to break a record, with a total attendance of 4,884, an increase of 221 from 2017.
The Gimli festival announced an equitable approach to programming, with 46 per cent of its films being directed or written by women, and that strategy paid off, Zeghers says.
"A number of the new initiatives this year helped to bolster our overall attendance," Zeghers says. "More people are being engaged by the festival every year."
The festival handed out several awards, including one for best Manitoban director, presented to Shelagh Carter for her feature drama Before Anything You Say. Guy Maddin was presented the Alda Award for his outstanding career in the film industry and director Elise Swerhone received the Jack Clements Livin’ The Dream Award as recognition for her contributions to Manitoba cinema.
The 2018 Best of Fest film was the documentary Minding the Gap and the Audience Choice Award went to director John Barnard’s Bachman, a documentary on Winnipeg rocker Randy Bachman.
The winner of the RBC $10,000 Emerging Filmmaker Competition went to Erika Ulrich for her film concept of Palm House (Eternal Youth). Her completed film will have its world première at next year’s Gimli Film Festival. The Manitoba Short Film Audience Choice Award went to Erica Daniels’ Run as One.
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In a way, Randall King was born into the entertainment beat.