Sydney Fringe Festival

Sydney Fringe Festival
The Sydney Fringe Festival is the largest independent arts festival in New South Wales and one of the biggest events of its kind in Australia. Founded in 2010, it has been held every spring since its inception, typically in September.

The first fringe theater festival in Sydney was founded in 1994 by Katrina Sedgwick and Megan Donnelly. It was held in the Sydney suburb of Bondi from 1994 to 2002. It was succeeded by the Live Bait Festival co-produced by Glenn Wright and Michael Cohen. It also took place in Bondi in 2003 and 2004. When the Live Bait Festival was discontinued, Sydney was left without a fringe festival for several years until the present-day Sydney Fringe Festival was founded in 2010.

Unlike most other independent performing arts festivals, Sydney Fringe began as a curated festival, which is unusual because most fringe festivals are open-access, unjuried festivals. The open access festival model was implemented in 2012, however, the visual arts section remains curated. To participate in the Sydney Fringe Festival, artists and performing groups need to register and pay a participation fee that depends on the amount of sessions.

The Sydney Fringe Festival encompasses a variety of genres, including music, dance, contemporary theater, stand-up comedy, burlesque, cabaret, visual arts, and more. A special emphasis is placed on new, experimental genres that are not easily labeled and are rarely showcased at other alternative arts and culture festivals. For example, past festivals have included indie video game events and podcast recordings. The Sydney Fringe Festival is billed as a celebration of the strange and the beautiful, and its participants are willing to take risks.

The shows are held in a number of venues within the festival precinct. Most venues are located in Newtown, Enmore and Marrickville, although there also are several venues in the wider Sydney area, including the City, Oxford Street, Parramatta and Leichhardt. The organizers match artists to their venues, making sure that each artist has the right space for their event and has a greater chance of cost recovery. Artists are charged a straight venue hire fee and receive 100% of box office.

The Sydney Fringe Festival features about 300 shows to suit any taste. Although it is not a competitive festival, it presents awards for genre excellence in genres such as theater, musical theater and cabaret, Fringe Kids, physical theater and circus, visual art, spoken word, music, comedy, and dance.

Sydney Fringe Festival

Photo: Claire Sargent




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