From an article by Adam Spreadbury-Maher in The Guardian. He’s talking about England, but I think it applies here, as well:
I believe that fringe theatre is one of this country’s most important cultural entities. It is one of the last remaining forms that has been touched in almost no way by commerciality, by sponsorship, by the money that is a lifeline for some and handcuffs for others. Fringe theatres remain independent from the government and big business. They are staffed in the main by young people looking for a break, learning their craft, making theatre because they care about it rather than because they have a mortgage to pay. It’s a world where no one makes theatre because they’re told to, but because they need to – they have everything to say and an outlet where it can be easily released; where work can happen almost instantly – with an overdraft, some gaffer tape and people who share each other’s ideals.