Thursday, December 09, 2004

A war of words...

Well, it seems that the infringement is being discussed quite a bit in the Montréal Mirror's letter section these days.

It all started with Michael Black's annual advertisement for the Fringe(tm) deadlines. This year, he went beyond his typical cheerleading to bring up some interesting points:
(its about halfway down the page and called "Fringe heads up")

I responded in hopes of informing people struggling with the issues Mr. Black brought up that they have another option:
(fourth letter down called Infringement heads up)

This letter drew an inexplicably harsh attack from none other than Montréal Fringe(tm) producer Jeremy Hechtman:
(third down, Fringe fires back)

This was a baseless attack on infringement Artists. Mr. Hechtman even went as far as insinuating that we were like the Republican Party. As someone who went to both NYC and Ottawa to protest Bush with other like-minded people in the infringement movement (not to mention our involvement in countless actions against corporate opression here in Montréal), I found those comments both laughable and insulting and felt compelled to write a response. Other infringers did the same.

Ultimately, though, it was Vivian Unger who said in the press what most of us here were already thinking (thanks, Vivian!) :
(last letter on the page, Infringement riposte!)

So let me know what you think. If you have a letter, send it to me and I'll post it here.

For now, here's some of the letters we sent that have not yet been published.

'till next time,



In response to Jeremy Hechtman's question (Fringe fires back, letters, December 2nd), I was referring more to practical guidelines such as the December deadline and the registration fee (which I mentioned elsewhere in the letter) than specifically artistic ones like the unwritten rule the Fringe has about not pissing off their sponsors if you want to stay in the festival.

I do find it funny, however, that Mr. Hechtman thinks infringement artists would be "more at home joining the Republican Party" when we have a clear mandate to nurture critical art and encourage it to infringe on opressive structures like the GOP or more local "lie-spreading bullies."

In fact, by focusing on one little line, and then turning to name-calling in hopes people will forget that we charge nothing to join, strive for diversity and put the artists ahead of the sponsors, you are employing the same tactics the neo-cons use to convince people they're really just a swell bunch of guys.

We should all work to strengthen and diversify this community's artists, not hinder them.

Jason C. McLean
Chaos Organizer - The infringement Festival (Montréal)


I find it ironic that in his letter to the editor bashing the rival inFRINGEment festival [letters, Fringe Fires Back] Fringe Boss Jeremy Hechtman would stoop so low as to accuse us of being closet Republicans!

While he doubtless scored some cheap points with his “swift-boat veterans for Henchman” type distortion the reality is quite different.

The inFRINGEment has been, from it’s outset, a people’s festival. Created as a critical response to the corporatization, exorbitant fees and, in at least one instance, blatant censorship of the St. Ambroise Montreal Fringe FestivalTM the inFRINGEment has sought to offer artists a choice. Between high entry fees and ticket surcharges – and no fees at all. Between a festival beholden to corporate sponsors – and a festival which lives and breathes an anti-corporate ethos.

Last year’s critical success, with both media and audiences, and the expansion of the inFRINGEment to three new cities has provided us with the credibility and profile to offer just such a choice to our fellow artists.

The problem for Mr. Hechtman? The artists are choosing, and they are choosing in record numbers. And really, who can blame them? The financial advantage alone is enormous, not to mention the opportunity to dispense with lotteries, deadlines and other bureaucratic nonsense and participate in reclaiming our culture.

So perhaps Mr. Hechtman can be forgiven for his bile. However, the irony of accusing the inFRINGEment of Republican tendencies is too much to pass up.

The organizers of the inFRINGEment organized a wildly successful touring fundraiser named Bush Fire in Toronto and Montreal earlier this year. It was an off-season inFRINGEagain event put together to help subsidize the buses they too had organized to go down to New York and theatrically protest the Republican National Convention. Buses Mr. Hechtman was mysteriously absent from.

Some inFRINGEment organizers were also heavily involved in organizing subsidized buses to Ottawa two weeks ago to protest George W. Bush. In fact, Mr. Hechtman was mysteriously absent from those buses as well!

GASP! Could it be that Mr. Hechtman is engaged in that other age-old Republican trick: accusing your opponents of being what you yourself are? In his case not a cheese eating surrender monkey but… a Republican sympathizer!!!

In any case give us a call (583-FEST), check out our website ( or drop us a line ( Help us reclaim our culture from the corporate presence which permeates our lives and, starting small, with one little corner of the world, make it ours again. Oh, and we promise not to turn you into cheese eating surrender monkeys OR closet Republican sympathizers!

Ethan Cox


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