The ABC Guide to Burlesque Festival Applications

Burlesque festival season is underway once more, so we thought it only fitting to dedicate a blog mini-series to these key events in the annual burly calendar.
Since the launch of Miss Exotic World 25 years ago, dozens of other burlesque festivals have taken root across the world, bringing together performers from a wide range of places with hugely differing skills. Festivals are a great way to meet new performers, showcase your acts in new places and see exciting new work, and the atmosphere / buzz at festivals is wonderfully inspiring too.
This week we decided to put together some advice when it comes to applying to international festivals.

The Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend celebrates its 25th Anniversary this year.
The BHoF Weekend celebrates its 25th anniversary this year and is widely considered the creme de la creme of burlesque festivals.

First of all, do your research. With so many festivals to choose from, try to find out something about the ones you’re interested in before you apply. How long have they been running? What sort of reputation do they have in the burlesque community as a whole? What type of shows do they put on? (eg classic, boylesque, themed etc). What level of performer do they accept? Make sure you apply for the correct show / category / level if there’s an option. If you know anyone who has attended a particular festival in previous years, ask them about their experience.

Work out your budget
With so many amazing festivals going on around the world, it can be tempting to want to do it all! However, you need to be sensible and realistic with your budget. Some festivals offer a nominal fee, others don’t offer any pay, some are pay-to-apply and a few are by invite only (this latter category tends to include a performance fee and expenses.) Work out your budget before you apply and plan how you’re going to save for it. Don’t forget to include travel costs (flights, taxis etc), a food budget, hotel / accommodation expenses and some pocket money too.

Showcase or Competition?
The kind of festival you decide to apply to will have a lot to do with what you want to get out of it as a performer. If you’re after a title or crown to help boost your standing within the scene, then a competition is your best bet. Aside from the biggie – Burlesque Hall of Fame (BHoF) in Las Vegas – there are a number of other international festivals which run competitive shows for both experienced and newer performers.

The NYBF is now in its 13th year and offers an amazing showcase of international acts.
The NYBF is now in its 13th year and offers an amazing showcase of international acts.

If you’re more after the experience of a festival show, without the added stress of battling for a title, then you might be better opting for a showcase-style festival. These often run a series of shows to accommodate different themes and styles and can be a great way to take your first steps on an international stage.

Application tips
When it comes to sending off your application (and we can’t stress this enough!) read through the whole application before you begin, answer every question, provide the correct links where needed and always review before you send it off. Many applications are rejected for being incomplete and it would be a shame for your hard work to go to waste. Also, make sure you’re well-organised ahead of the deadline; having to rush to finish if you’ve left it to the last minute isn’t going to do you any favours.

That’s it for this week’s blog, next week we’ll be taking a look at some of the festivals around the world, so do join us then.