Lagos Fringe 2020 Set to Defy the Odds

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With its exotic mix of lined-up events, the Lagos Fringe team has defied the odds of this period to organise an outdoor festival of arts at Freedom Park this November, writes Yinka Olatunbosun

Breath-taking performances, experimental work, exhibitions and an array of training opportunities await visitors at one of the largest outdoor festivals in West Africa. Scheduled to hold from November 17 to 22, Lagos Fringe is indeed an ice-breaker for the performing arts scene that had been on hiatus since the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown.

Now in its third year, the Lagos Fringe Festival offers a hybrid programme of virtual and live interactions with social distancing measures in place. For six days, participants and partners will collaborate in this annual multidisciplinary arts celebration. As usual, the festival is family-friendly, appealing to students, children, professionals, artists, art institutions, expatriates as well as international guests.

The Festival Producer, Brenda Fashugba in her remarks during a recent press briefing assured the public that the festival would adhere strictly to Covid-19 directives. There will be an enforcement of the ‘no mask no entry’ rule for all festival attendees at the physical venue.

“There will also be a vibrant arts market on display throughout the festival period; short film screenings and feedback sessions where film makers will be on ground to engage with the audience to share their processes and motivation,” she revealed.

Highlights of this year include a music concert followed by a brilliant fireworks display to light up the night to set the mood for the holiday season.

“Another highlight is the street food fiesta where there will be food stalls of all types showcasing delicious dishes and tasty treats. Some festival goers will learn tips of the trade with live cooking demonstrations and discover hidden food secrets. Just to mention though, that all our festival events will be presented with health and safety protocols intact such as; limiting the number of audience allowed to each show, Audience and guests will be required to have their temperature checked before entering the space. Face masks and shields must be worn at all times and if they do not have, one will be provided at the gate,” she further disclosed.

The Festival Director, Lagos Fringe, Kenneth Uphopho who is also the General Secretary, Guild Of Theatre Directors remarked that this year’s festival, in the light of the pandemic, will contribute to the positive messaging to the artists’ communities about devising very practical ways to still earn our living by adapting to our new realities while Covid-19 rages.

“As you know, we are alternative in our approach with special focus on the multi-disciplinary medium of expressions and our mantra is OPEN ACCESS. We are a platform for all kinds of work, not just theatre. The theme we have adopted, ‘Recreating the Future’ was inspired by the experiences of the recent times where everything has changed from a level of systemic growth to an unknown variable in just a few months. I mean with all that’s happened or still happening globally and digitally as well as the innovative ways we have adapted, it only reinforces our intention to present this artistic celebration of the Lagos Fringe as a symbol of our continued resilience especially within the creative communities,” he said.

The festival partners for this edition include Goethe Institut, Freedom Park and Orijin with support from the United States Consulate General.

Lagos Fringe has grown in the number of performances, as well as in the size of participants and audience engagement since its launch in 2018. In November 2018 and 2019, the festival held for eight days and six days respectively, featuring over 156 shows in about 21 venues with a combined attendance of over 5500 people. The Lagos Fringe hashtag has over 85 million impressions on social media.