A new home and future for Melbourne Fringe

Melb Fringe Victorian Trades HallWith the support from the Victorian Government, the historic Trades Hall in Carlton will become the new headquarters of the Melbourne Fringe Festival and home to a new creative hub for Victoria’s artists.

Minister for Creative Industries Martin Foley joined Fringe artists, past and present, to announce the move which heralds a new era for Australia’s biggest celebration of independent arts – and for the iconic building.

“We know that one of the biggest challenges facing artists and independent creatives is access to affordable space, especially in the inner city – that’s why we’re investing in ways to unlock spaces for creative use.,” said Minister Foley. “This is an excellent example of how a lively, historic building can be creatively shared for wider use – providing an exciting year-round venue for all to enjoy and making a real impact for local artists.”

The Government has invested $150,000 through the Creative Spaces program to facilitate the move, alongside contributions from the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust and private donors. Melbourne Fringe will take over Trades Hall’s Old Ballroom and Annexe, with an all-year offering for artists and audiences alike.

As well as being a focal point of the annual Melbourne Fringe Festival, hosting about a quarter of the program, the venue will be open all year round, buzzing with performances and creative activity. It will be an affordable venue for music, dance, comedy and other performances as well as a space to pioneer new creative work. It will also host events, workshops, masterclasses, forums, meetings, residencies and other activities supporting the independent arts community.

This project won’t just provide Melbourne Fringe with a roof over its head, it will also contribute to the organisation’s long-term sustainability – and to Victoria’s arts sector more broadly. As a year-round licensed venue, it will generate income to further support local independent artists and Fringe’s work.

“Melbourne Fringe’s move to Trades Hall fulfils a long-held ambition to create the most accessible, supportive and dynamic space to celebrate Melbourne’s independent arts sector,” said Melbourne Fringe Creative Director and CEO, Simon Abrahams. “This is a game changer for our organisation and for the 3500 plus independent artists with whom we collaborate every year to make extraordinary things happen.”

Last year’s Melbourne Fringe Festival served up almost 450 events and attracted an audience of 350,000. The 2019 event will run from 19-29 September at more than 170 venues across the city, including Trades Hall. For more information, visit: www.melbournefringe.com.au got details.

Image: Victorian Trades Hall (sourced)