Melbourne Fringe Festival

Melbourne Fringe Festival
The Melbourne Fringe Festival is an annual independent arts festival that takes place in the Australian city of Melbourne, Victoria, running for three weeks from late September to early October. It is Australia’s second largest festival of its kind after the Adelaide Fringe Festival in South Australia, as well as the longest-running multi-arts festival in Victoria.

The history of the festival began in the early 1980s, when the Pram Factory, an alternative theater venue in Carlton, was closed and demolished. In 1982, the Fringe Arts Network was created to provide a gathering point for the Pram Factory’s artists. The Network’s inauguration was marked by a mini-festival, and the first full-fledged Fringe Festival in Melbourne took place in 1983. If featured 120 artists who performed at 25 venues across Melbourne.

For several years, it was part of the Spoleto Festival of Two Worlds, but in 1986 the Fringe Arts Network claimed its independence, and the Melbourne Fringe Festival as we know it today was born. Today’s festival encompasses all forms of performing arts, including music, dance, theater, comedy, cabaret, circus, performance art, digital art, and more. Every year, it features over 400 shows by approximately 6,000 artists from around the world, attracting an audience of about 350,000.

Like most other fringe theater festivals, Melbourne Fringe is an open-access festival that embraces diversity and a spirit of independence. Billed as a celebration of cultural democracy and art for everyone, it doesn’t have a selection process. All artists need to do to participate is submit an application and pay the participation fee before the deadline, so that the organizers have enough time to find a suitable venue for each show.

Performances are held in multiple venues across Melbourne, from independent theaters, clubs and bars to high-profile venues such as the Melbourne Museum and Federation Square. The festival also has a hub located at the North Melbourne Town Hall that hosts the Festival Club, the main box office, and several Fringe-run venues.

Although the Melbourne Fringe Festival is not a competition, the festival presents a number of awards to the best shows, artists and groups. Its Best in Category Awards include Best Performance, Best Comedy, Best Live Art, Best Dance, Best Music, Best Kids, Best Visual Arts, Best Circus, Best Words & Ideas, Best Cabaret, and Best Venue. Other awards include the Touring Awards, the Artist Development Awards, the Fringe Furniture Awards, the People’s Choice Award, and the Melbourne Fringe Living Legend Award.

Melbourne Fringe

Photo: Teresa Noble




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