Today from 12:00 – 12:30 PST was one of the most maddening and infuriating days of the Rogue calendar: Application Day. In our first-come, first-served arrangement of applications we’ve created the Oklahoma Land Rush of fringe festival applications, receiving an unprecedented influx of visits to our website within the first three minutes. The competition for slots is intense – especially for the mainstage slots which receive three times the number of applications than the cafe slots. Add unforeseen technical problems to this already intense situation and it becomes a nightmare, both for Rogue Festival and for the artists hoping to land a spot. Let’s face it. It’s pretty awful, even with the best preparation.
We understand the stakes for performers and artists. I mean that. I’m an independent theater director myself and I understand the immense stress that comes with being an independent performing artist. Touring performers want to perform regularly and they’re always looking for the most production and potentially most satisfying opportunities. Local performers see Rogue as an annual opportunity to perform for a wider audience or to get more experience performing. The stakes are always high in the arts. People are offering their artistry, the dearly-held work of their lives, and here’s yet another barrier. The emotional investment is pretty profound.
On the backend, Rogue always wants this to go smoothly for everyone involved. We want to lower those barriers, not create more. So we test and test and test again with a variety of people. We double-check our website and our form accessibility. We try to communicate what will help everyone be more prepared for the application process and get that out to the world. Unfortunately, we don’t have the resources to do testing over all platforms and browsers, and we can’t always foresee how the coding of our website will interact with the coding of the form and the browsers on the other end. I truly wish we did. This limitation on our end led to a tremendously frustrating hindrance. It is not what we wanted, but it is unfortunately what happened. Whether preventable or not, that is on me as executive director, and I’m very sorry for it.
We can wish for a do-over, but that’s just not possible at this point as it wouldn’t be fair to those who did see the button, who did find the link, and who have already paid for their slots in the festival and on the waitlist. Fairness is something we value at Rogue, but we have to face the fact that this application system has a number of unfair aspects – even when things go perfectly smoothly, it isn’t completely fair. Please know that the Rogue staff and board will be discussing this application process and seeking to find ways to improve it (or to make a tough decision to change it) in the coming year.
On a personal note, I’d like to say that it saddens and frustrates me to see so many worthy artists denied a fairer chance to apply on my watch. I so wanted this to go well for each one of you because I know what it is to have a great idea but be denied a way or a place to express it. That’s unfortunately the nature of applications when there’s a scarcity of spots – many people must be left disappointed. But I wish with everything in me that I could give a slot to everyone who asks because I love what you bring to the world: Art, ideas, stimulation, and great experiences.
To those who managed to work through the minefield of apps and received a slot (or are on the waitlist), you will receive an email from me before the weekend is out. For those who didn’t, I hope you will give us another chance next year. Fresno and the good people of Rogue Festival always make it worth the trouble!
If you’d like to share your thoughts, the comments are open for business.
PS – If you have a moment, give Beckie Tetrault a little bit of love for putting out fires and putting up alternative links on the fly. She worked really hard this morning and did a great job from her desk.