19th Annual Rogue Festival Returns to the Tower District

By Community Alliance Staff

The 2020 Rogue Festival features 250 performances by 53 performing groups in 11 Tower District venues in Fresno’s largest, craziest and most courageous performing arts festival.

A completely uncensored theater and performing arts festival, the Rogue Festival returns to the Tower District March 6–14. This year’s festival features more than 250 separate performances of theater, music, dance, comedy, spoken word and magic.

But the most important thing about the Rogue isn’t its size or variety, but rather it’s freedom for both performers and audience, says Rogue Festival Executive Director Amber Strid.

The Rogue Festival is built on the principle that there should be no censor, no curator and no selection committee standing between the artist and the audience.

“Fresno’s completely uncensored performing arts event returns March 6–14”

The festival does not choose who can or cannot participate. There are no restrictions on what performers can say or do, outside of safety codes and legal matters. For the audience, this is the one event in the San Joaquin Valley where they can see raw, uncensored, unmediated performances—and only the audience gets to say what’s good or bad by leaving reviews and spreading word-of-mouth.

Although previous Rogue Festivals accepted all applications on a first-come, first-serve basis, the festival now holds a lottery to allocate performing slots randomly and fairly.

Returning to the Rogue for its third year is the Artists’ Underground program, which allows performers who didn’t make it through the lottery to create their own venues in commercial spaces, local businesses and backyards. The number of Artist Underground venues continue to expand as performers find new ways to partner with residents and local businesses.

“We’re very excited that the Artist Underground program is being taken advantage of by artists who are willing to take risks and put up their own shows,” says Strid. 

Season 5, a live game-show featuring a rotating roster of Rogue artists

That was Marcel Nunis’ original vision for the festival when he founded it in 2002. “We’re glad to see more artists embodying that DIY, punk aesthetic and doing it for themselves,” says Strid. 

Now in its 19th year, the Rogue Festival is one of the oldest festivals of its kind in the United States and has built a nationwide reputation for Fresno as a city that celebrates the arts.

For more information, visit fresnoroguefestival.com.

  • The Community Alliance is a monthly newspaper that has been published in Fresno, California, since 1996. The purpose of the newspaper is to help build a progressive movement for social and economic justice.

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