Ten years ago, the “Infringement Festival” was founded in Montreal, by theater activists Donovan King, Jason C. McLean and Gary St-Laurent. Troubled by the commercial branding of the “St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival” and efforts by the “Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals” to trademark the word “Fringe,” the trio created a grass-roots event with the following mandate:
1. The “Infringement Festival” is free for all artists and activists to participate in. The festival will never charge a registration fee and participants will keep 100% of their box office.
2. The festival is open to all critical artists and will never discriminate, set entry criteria or censor.
3. The festival is run as a non-hierarchical arts democracy.
4. The festival will only accept ethical companies that pose no conflict of interest as sponsors, as the interests of the festival’s participants come before those of the sponsors.
5. The festival will encourage, although not be limited to, progressive acts that encourage discussion and oppose oppressive structures.
The “Infringement Festival,” known locally as “Infringement Montreal 2014,” includes artistic endeavors in Theater, Music, Street Performance, Spoken Word, Visual Arts and Film/Video. This year, it ran from June 18 to 22, concurrently with the final week of the “St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival.” The two events, each unique in scope, are warmly supported by the city’s diverse arts community. There is overlap – in fact, King presented highlights of the “Infringement” at the “Fringe’s” “ELAN Schmoozefest.”
Due to the dedicated efforts of its founders, an “Infringement” movement has blossomed across North America, and beyond. In August, King is invited back to the “2nd World Fringe Congress,” in Edinburgh, Scotland, with over 50 “Fringe” Festivals in attendance. There, as always, King will battle the corporate domination of artistic liberty and self-expression.
Those who wish to participate in “Infringement Montreal 2015,” as either a volunteer or presenter, or those who wish to start an “Infringement Festival” in their region, are welcome to contact the festival’s organizers.