In the same week that Orlando Fringe (Facebook | Website) is set to host its 31st Annual Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival, the City of Orlando has just approved to lease it the formerMad Cow Theatre (Facebook Website) space on Church Street – confirming a rumor that surfaced in November 2021.

“One of the highest priorities of the city’s shared vision for downtown Orlando is to have a strong presence of cultural and arts amenities within the urban core for all to enjoy. Fringe has a long history of supporting artists across Orlando and we look forward to how they will activate the space and further our efforts of growing our burgeoning arts scene.” 


The Orlando City Council voted unanimously on Monday, May 16th to enter a multi-year lease for Orlando Fringe to operate the performance space at 54 W. Church Street [GMap]. The move comes on the heels of a settlement that was reached with Mad Cow back in February that would allow it to finish out its current season through the end of May 31, 2022.

Mad Cow made headlines recently when it became public that it had not only failed to pay back the City for the $480,000 buildout of its theater but had also neglected to pay a monthly maintenance fee for security and common area services to the owners of 55 West for the entirety of its 11-year residency on Church Street – to the tune of an additional $121,742.

City Council has approved a new multi-year lease for Orlando Fringe to operate the theater, along with a Community Redevelopment Agency grant of $307,000 to assist their launch of a new accelerator program in the downtown space, which will foster and mentor local emerging arts organizations.

Fringe will operate full theatrical runs in the space, recruit touring shows from the international Fringe network, host educational programming, and facilitate rentals of the space for other local organizations. Fringe will also be empowered to activate the 54 West Plaza facing Church Street to help foster more arts in the downtown core.

The new space is expected to open in May 2023.

Mad Cow Theatre had not made a public comment about the future of the organization at the time of this post.

Orlando Fringe is the longest-running theatre festival of its kind in the country and showcases over 200 shows from around the world. This year’s festival opening ceremony will take place at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 17th at Loch Haven Park.

Brendan O'Connor

Editor in Chief of

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