Thomas Scott

Top 40 Under 40 2012

Photography Pedersen

Age: 39

Job Title: Program Director, Fringe Theatre Adventures

Why He’s Top 40: As artistic administrator for the Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival, he’s helped elevate the event from the fifth largest Fringe in the world to third.

Key To Success: “I’m a natural born promoter. But I love getting people excited about anything regarding creativity.”

Six years ago, when Toronto-based arts impresario Thomas Scott received the call that he was to helm the programming position at Fringe Theatre Adventures, he knew Edmonton had a pretty hot theatre climate. It was the actual climate that concerned him.

“I wanted to know how cold it was going to be,” says Scott. “But I was so full of anticipation that, once I got off the plane, I hit the ground running.”

Today, he administers an annual madcap marathon of theatre. At last August’s instalment of the Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival, he programmed 214 productions and more than 1,800 performances in 52 venues, making “Village of the Fringed” the largest in the event’s 31-year history. Some village.

Based on reported ticket sales of 112,006 for those 11 days, and overall on-site attendance of 680,000, patrons at the Fringe provided a sufficient enough population base to qualify as Alberta’s third-largest city.

When the drama-studied Vancouver native started programming his first Fringe, it was already a megafest drawing some 76,000 ticket-buyers. But Scott, who cut his teeth promoting and running theatre companies in Toronto and New York, saw potential for more growth through BYOV (Bring Your Own Venue) incentives, making it easier for artists to stage shows in whatever performance spaces they could find. Aided by the introduction of an online ticketing system, the number of venues tripled to accommodate a 50 per cent jump  in productions, resulting in overall sales increasing by more than 40 per cent over the past five years.

“I listened to the artists and found that more BYOVs was the way to go,” says Scott, who volunteers with artsScene Edmonton Committee and NextGen Edmonton’s Pecha Kucha nights, and co-produces Fringe Theatre Adventures year-round with other arts groups. “Getting the job was like winning Star Search.”

Scott also hones his creativity as a DJ in various clubs around town, so it would seem the cold temperatures that initially rattled Scott are a non-issue these days.

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