Have You Met... Erin Voaklander?

Development Director poses ourtside with a performer wearing a realistic dinosaur costume!

July 7, 2023

Erin Voaklander (she/her) is Director of Development for Fringe Theatre. She is also an enthusiastic theatre collaborator and stage manager, working with theatre Artists and companies from Victoria to Toronto. Various selected credits: Bears, Minosis Gathers Hope, After the Fire (Punctuate! Theatre/Alberta Aboriginal Performing Arts); The Space Between Stars workshops (Small Matters Productions); The Particulars, Sia (Pyretic Productions); Puttin’ on the Ritz, A Christmas Carol (Belfry Theatre); The Bomb-itty of Errors, White Christmas (Arts Club Theatre); Pride and Prejudice, True Love Lies, Courageous, Shining City (Citadel Theatre).

When did you start Fringing?  

My very first Fringe Festival was in 2006. I was a Festival Artist for ten years and began working with the admin team at Fringe Theatre in 2015.  

How would you describe your job at Fringe?  

I love people, and I get to spend a lot of time in conversation with all sorts of Fringers – Donors, Volunteers, Sponsors, and Artists. I witness so many different passions for Fringe that are expressed in many different ways.  

It is an honour to hear someone’s personal Fringe story, how they’ve met friends and partners at Edmonton Fringe. How they lovingly build traditions together over decades. How every year, they take their vacation time based on Festival dates and stay in Edmonton so they can fringe all day and all night. I am consistently blown away by the ways Fringers passionately support our Fringe.  

I am the Director of Development and have the pleasure of working with a wonderful Development, Marketing, and Communications Team made up of four exceptional humans year-round: Liam (Communications Specialist), Ren (Sponsorship Specialist), Sydney (Marketing Specialist), and Yu-Chen (Graphic Designer). 

Together, we work to build relationships with folks who are passionately committed to supporting the Festival and the 365 days of activity that happens at the Fringe Theatre Arts Barns. We share the story of Fringe Theatre and the Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival in a million different ways. 

What are you most excited about in your role with Fringe?  

I love storytelling; I believe that storytelling helps us connect with each other, to those we know and to the strangers who surround us when we’re seeing a show together. The stories we explore on Festival stages build empathy. They help us grapple with the tough stuff. Sometimes they shine a light and help us solve problems. They often inspire us. Stories give me hope.  

I love that I get to spend my days imagining how we can help people tell their stories – how we can better support Artists and Theatre Makers. How can we give them all the support and tools they need to bring their stories to life? How the seeds we plant today will help Fringe Theatre flourish for decades. 

Erin Voaklander sits behind a desk as a Stage Manager commanding a rehearsal hall.
Erin stage managing a design workshop for Small Matters Productions in 2021. Photo by Marc J. Chalifoux.
What is something you are learning right now? 

I am learning how to work with clay! I am very green and not very good, but I find it incredibly satisfying to work with my hands. Pottery is a roller-coaster of a creative process. The failures are spectacular, but the learning that comes from them can lead to incredible highs.  

What inspires you?  

I believe everyone is inherently creative, and I hope everyone has the opportunity to explore their creativity. I have a soft spot for first-time Fringe Artists. And for those who don’t even know they are Fringe Artists yet (but who are destined to tell their story on a Festival stage someday). 

I am constantly inspired by how the individual actions of many individual people create incredible community impact. The Festival experience we love so much today is a collective creation made by four decades of Fringers. Whether you are a Monthly Donor giving $20 a month, an Artist bringing a show (or shows) to life this summer, a Volunteer giving time and skill to make Fringe happen, or an Audience Member buying tickets and seeing shows, your actions have a tremendous impact on the future of Fringe. Thank you so much for all you give and all you do.

What is the best compliment you’ve ever received? 

A friend once told me I reminded them of a Muppet – the energy, the hilarity, the hair! I can’t imagine a better compliment than that.  

What are you passionate about outside of work?  

Pizza, jokes, and hugs!

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