ORLANDO — The Orlando Fringe family just expanded, with veteran actress and singer Desiree Montes joining Fringe as their new artistic and marketing director.
The announcement was made just a few weeks after Fringe celebrated the official opening of their new ArtSpace theater on Church Street in downtown Orlando, which also hosted the recent Winter Mini-Fest shows.
“We’re thrilled to announce a new leader in our organization,” Fringe noted in a news release. “With the addition of Fringe ArtSpace and year-round programming comes the need to incorporate more artistic curation into Fringe’s operations.”
Fringe noted that the role of Artistic and Marketing Director will “combine two elements that are vital to nonprofit success – cultivating the art and the marketing and upholding the brand.”
Montes is a well known performer in Central Florida, whose credits over the past 17 years have included stage shows across the region, and roles as Mabel in The Blues Brothers Show and Celestina Warbeck in Diagon Alley at Universal Studios. Montes has also worked as an audition preparation coach, director, arts educator, and graphic designer. She made her Off-Broadway debut at the 2019 New York Musical Festival in the Osceola Arts produced production of Flying Lessons.
In addition to her acting, Montes has been an active voice for equality, diversity and inclusion, having served on the Central Florida Liaison Committee, the Equal Employment Opportunity Committee, and the Walt Disney World Negotiation Action Committee for Actors’ Equity Association.
Montes also has a background in marketing, having served as the Communications & Digital Outreach Lead for Central Florida Entertainment Advocacy and the marketing director for the NYC-based organization, Latiné Musical Theatre Lab and more recently as Marketing Director for Opera Orlando.
“Desiree’s unique career path melds arts and marketing, and makes her a great fit for this role,” Fringe noted. “Please welcome her to the Fringe family!”
What is the History of Fringe ArtSpace?
Last April, the City of Orlando approved a deal to allow Orlando Fringe to operate at the Church Street property. The city now has a multi-year lease agreement with Fringe for the Church Street space, which will become their permanent home to bring in national touring productions.
The 2022 Orlando Fringe Festival was held at the Lowndes Shakespeare Theater in Loch Haven Park, when there were more than 400 performances leading up to Memorial Day Weekend.
The Orlando Fringe Festival is the oldest Fringe in the nation, and in 2022 celebrated its 31th year. It was created in 1991 by Terry Olson (who is now the director of the Orange County Division of Arts and Cultural Affairs), Andy Anthony and Rick Kunst, and held in 1992 in downtown Orlando.
The concept was simple: a festival featuring multiple theatrical shows, mostly done in venues in empty storefronts. In 2004, the festival started to relocate to Loch Haven Park, and from 2005 on, the festival has been held entirely in that park and in nearby Ivanhoe Village. It’s the longest running Fringe Festival in the United States, a 14-day festival held in the spring.
Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright, and author of the book “Bloody Rabbit”. Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com.