The head of the Minnesota Fringe Festival is resigning even as the organization faces a legal challenge.
Jeff Larson, who has been with the organization for 18 years — the last three as its executive director — will step down in two weeks. He said that he thought it was a good time to take a break and to try something new.
“It’s been a good, fun run,” he said. "And the fringe is in pretty good shape."
Larson’s departure comes as the fringe fights a lawsuit brought by actor and show creator Sean Neely, whose show about a pedophile won a lottery slot in the festival but was later rejected. A hearing on that lawsuit was held in September.
“As the longest-tenured fringe employee, Jeff got to know the ins and outs of the organization and was well-prepared to innovate from there,” said David Frank, economic development director for the city of Minneapolis and board president. “Jeff’s legacy includes holding video classes, using wrist bands [for admission], and enabling artists to do adventurous things.”
The board is planning a search for a replacement, Frank said.
The fringe has an annual budget of $740,000. It has three fulltime employees but grows up about 70 for its two-week festival. In 2016, about 48,000 tickets were sold to 168 shows.
Larson said that he intends to go on a trip to Italy.