Ottawa Fringe Festival issues statement after drinks spiked at event

The Ottawa Fringe festival is reacting to concerns expressed in the community about security flowing from an incident in which a drug was reportedly put in the drinks of two individuals on separate occasions during the 2019 event.

The festival released a statement Monday morning on Twitter directed to “friends and patrons.”

The letter reads, in part: “At the Ottawa Fringe Festival, we strive to create a space that is safe, and builds a sense of community for the artists, volunteers, audience and staff. …

“In keeping with the spirit of Fringe, we also need to address a serious issue that arose during the festival that compromised the safety and security of the Fringe community. On the final weekend of the festival, there were reports of a drug being put into two individuals’ drinks at the Festival tent. When these issues were brought to our attention, we reported them to the Ottawa Police.”

The letter signed by the festival’s board and staff goes on to say, “we want you to know we are taking them very seriously. To this end, we sincerely apologize if our handling of the issue to date has caused any mistrust and disappointment in the community. We understand that it may take some time to earn back your trust. We are reviewing our policies and carefully considering our incident response going forward. …

“We pride ourselves on making the Fringe a safe and inclusive space for everyone, and are committed to doing better going forward to keep our community safe and to do our best to prevent future incidents.

“We would ask that you continue to hold us accountable. We welcome complaints and constructive feedback at:”

This year’s festival ran from June 13 to June 23 and was the best attended ever topping 14,000 tickets sold.

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Peter Robb began his connection with the arts community in Ottawa in the mid-1980s when he was the administrator and public relations director of the Great Canadian Theatre Company. After a long career in journalism with the Ottawa Citizen where he served in a number of different posts he returned to the arts when he became the Citizen's arts editor.