New “Chicago EX Fest” Determined to Pay Performers

A new comedy and performance festival will hit Chicago this January. Dubbed the “Chicago EX Fest,” organizers intend to provide a festival that creates “new norm of paying performers for their time and work.” Founder Matthew Payne says that “Currently, it can cost up to $50 just to submit your materials to most comedy or performing arts festivals—just to get someone to click on your link, or to just sit down and start to read your scene or your past reviews.” Payne says it’s rare that festivals like this pay performers, and that acts are responsible for props, costumes, rehearsal space, etc., yet may receive no portion of the ticket sales to defray the costs. Sales instead benefit the venue and festival organizers on the backs of performers who are working for “exposure.”

Some acts have been chosen for the festival, which will take place at The Crowd Theater January 12-14, including PS Burlesque, composed of former Gorilla Tango burlesque performers who walked away en masse from the company for lack of pay. Other acts and performers include Megan DeLay, Becca Brown, Camille Robinson, Charlie Baker, Rashawn Thompson, Jessica Seals, Baby Wine, Amber Linde & Rachel Mason, Michelle Davey, Claire Swanson, SAME, and Heather Chrisler. Rapper Chore Boy and Dawn Bless will host, along with a yet-to-be-named artist.

Performers wanting to apply to Chicago Ex Fest are requested to submit materials to [email protected] by Oct. 25th.

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