The History of IndyFringe

How did Indianapolis get involved?

In 2001, then Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson announced his Cultural Tourism Initiative and appointed Keira Amstutz to oversee the project. Kathleen Robbins, a theatre transplant from New York City, organized a public meeting, “Theatre City Indianapolis 2012,” where the Mayor met with a panel of experts (Brian Payne, Margot Eccles, Dante Ventresca, Rob MacPherson, Ann Stack, David Hoppe) and more than 250 Indianapolis citizens.

The group, asked to imagine what theatre in Indy might look like in ten years, brainstormed for more than two hours. A few weeks later the same panel met to review the results of the meeting, and the single best idea - the one that met the most needs expressed in the room - was an Indianapolis Theatre Fringe Festival. With seed money given by Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF) and the Efromyson Family Foundation to support research and travel for the project, IndyFringe was born.

With the support of CICF, The Arts Council of Indianapolis, Riley Area Development Corporation, Indianapolis Downtown, Inc., and a handful of wonderful volunteers, IndyFringe became an annual summer event on Massachusetts Avenue. Today, donors large and small, corporations and foundations support the festival.

In 2008, an historic church at 719 E. St. Clair Street became what is now the IndyFringe Basile Theatre, a year-round theatre space. In 2012, IndyFringe purchased the property from realtor
R.L. Young and his family.

In 2014, Wisdom Tooth Theatre Project became the first-ever resident theatre company at IndyFringe.

In 2015, we opened the Indy Eleven Theatre and the Trailhead. Attached to the IndyFringe Basile Theatre and located directly south of the original space on the same lot, the Trailhead functions as both a lobby area for IndyFringe and support for the Indy Eleven Theatre and Cultural Trail. The Indy Eleven Theatre was established through a unique partnership with Indy Eleven Professional Soccer and was built as a small, experimental theatre space.

In 2018, IndyFringe took over the management of the former Theatre on the Square, now known as the District Theatre. The District Theatre bridges the gap between audiences and artists and builds a stronger arts community. In partnership with the Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF) and the Indianapolis Theatre Fringe Festival (IndyFringe), we are committed to preserving the facilities and cultural heritage of the Massachusetts Avenue site, as well as striving to provide the best venue for live performances in the Mass Ave Cultural District. Please sign up for our newsletter to keep up to date on our performances, fundraising efforts, and events.