The Minnesota Fringe Festival has named a new executive director.

Dawn Bentley, whose latest leadership role was running the Art Shanty Projects on Medicine Lake, will take the reins of the organization April 3.

 “I am honored and humbled to be given this opportunity,” Bentley said in a prepared statement. She vowed to be “an effective leader and passionate advocate for the Fringe."

A body-builder and marathon runner, Bentley has experience in non-profit management. She was director of business development for the Northern Spark festival and has been an adjunct faculty member at several institutions, including McNally Smith College of Music and the University of Minnesota.

Bentley assumes leadership of one of the state’s largest performing arts festivals at a time of change and challenge.

The fringe was sued last year by Sean Neely, a controversial Arizona-based performer. Neely's pedophilia-themed show, “Having Sex with Children in My Brain,” won a slot in the festival’s lottery, but then was later rejected. That lawsuit is remains active.

Bentley succeeds Jeff Larson, a longtime fringe employee who resigned last fall, followed by his deputy, Ann B. Erickson.

The fringe has grown exponentially since its founding in 1994. It has an annual budget of $740,000 and three fulltime employees — a number that balloons to about 70 for its two-week festival.

About 48,000 tickets were sold to 168 fringe show in 2016, a year when the festival paid out over $230,000 to artists, according to fringe officials.

The 2017 fringe festival runs August 3 - 13, 2017.

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