Melbourne Fringe has announced the appointment of two new board members. Australian theatre director, Michael Kantor joins as the new Chair of Melbourne Fringe’s Board (replacing the outgoing Chair Sam Strong) and strategic communications expert, Feyi Akindoyeni joins the Board as a Non-Executive Director.
Melbourne Fringe Creative Director and CEO, Simon Abrahams welcomed the new appointments who will oversee a period of expansion as the organisation celebrates a major 40th birthday milestone this year and moves into a new strategic phase.
“I’m thrilled to welcome Feyi and Michael to the Melbourne Fringe Board and I can’t wait to collaborate with them as we plot the next stages of Melbourne Fringe’s expansion and celebrate Fringe’s 40th anniversary this year,” said Abrahams.
“Michael’s artistic, strategic and philanthropic knowledge will be the perfect match as Chair, and Feyi’s advocacy know-how is second to none. I’m so excited to be working with them both.”
“We have bold ambitions, and as we plan for the next 40 years of Fringe, we will work together to ensure our artistic vibrancy, financial sustainability and strategic impact are supported by our community, our key partners and our stakeholders,” said Abrahams.
Michael is a theatre director born and bred in Melbourne, and has directed theatre, dance and opera for each of the major State theatre companies, as well as all the major festivals across the country.
Michael’s work includes The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Macbeth, The Ham Funeral and for Belvoir St Theatre in Sydney; Moon Spirit Feasting for the 2000 Adelaide Festival which later toured to Melbourne, Berlin, Zurich and Tokyo.
Michael directed Chunky Move’s 2003 Melbourne Festival production Tense Dave, which toured to the Sydney and Perth festivals and New York and collaborated as an actor with Barrie Kosky’s Gilgul Theatre, performing in The Dybbuk, Es Brent, The Wilderness Room and The Operated Jew.
Kantor was the Artistic Director of Malthouse Theatre from 2004 to 2010 directing many shows, including The Odyssey for the Melbourne and Perth International Arts Festivals, Though the Looking Glass with Victorian Opera, the Meow Meow spectaculars Vamp and The Little Mermaid, that both toured nationally and internationally, Optimism with The Sydney Theatre Company and Edinburgh International Festival, and The Threepenny Opera, also with The Sydney Theatre Company.
Michael’s first feature film, The Boy Castaways premiered at the Adelaide International Film Festival in 2015. He then adapted King Lear into two Indigenous languages for a new stage production, The Shadow King, that premiered at the Malthouse Theatre, and for which Michael was awarded The Helpmann Award for direction.
Coincidentally, the first ever show he ever directed was in the underground carpark at Melbourne Uni, and it was listed in that year’s Fringe Festival. Michael is also known for his philanthropic work and is a committed advocate for climate action.
“I am thrilled to be chairing the Fringe Board, at this critical time for the independent theatre and performance community, so severely wounded by the COVID pandemic,” said Kantor. “Melbourne Fringe can and will be the chief advocate for these artists in their existential battle to keep Melbourne theatrically alive – and kicking.”
With over 20 years’ experience in strategic communications Feyi is one of the country’s most sought after communications consultants. Feyi has a deep understanding of the nexus between policy, politics and business having spent 15 years in public affairs including five years in Canberra leading a bi-partisan team of top government relations experts.
Her counsel is valued by some of Australia’s le ading organisations including Google, Bunnings, Officeworks, Uber, CBA, RMIT, Life Without Barriers, the National Farmers Federation, and the federal departments of Health and Ageing, NDIA, Defence, Home Affairs and Education, who look to her for reputatio nal, strategic messaging and engagement counsel around policy, advocacy, effective stakeholder engagement, public affairs and digital communications.
She is a member of the Australian Market Social Research Society (AMSRS), sits as the president of the Australian Professional Government Relations Association (APGRA) and on the Board of the International Association of Political Consultants (IAPC). Feyi was also the Federal Arts Minister’s representative on the Board of the Australian Children’s Television Foundation for nine years.
After delivering a digital only Festival for the second year in a row, in 2021, Melbourne Fringe put over $215,000 into the hands of artists through a series of microgrants and bursaries to create new work.
Melbourne Fringe is currently bouncing back into the new year with a massive three-week program, Fringe Rebound. Featuring some of the top artist-led events that never had their moment in the spotlight in 2021.
The Melbourne Fringe Festival will return as an in-person Festival in October this year, and will celebrate its 40th anniversary with an exciting, expanded program and a yet-to-be announced series of major celebratory events and exhibitions. For more information, visit: www.melbournefringe.com.au for details.
Image: Michael Kantor (supplied)