Sydney Fringe Festival has announced an ambitious take over of the entire Oxford Street precinct for its month-long party in September. Combining the creative use of underutilised spaces across Sydney with exciting new and emerging artists, the event is set to be so much more than your average festival. Diversity and inclusivity are at the heart of this year’s festival and there will be a wide host of events, ranging from theatre to comedy and visual arts. In fact, the party intends to spread its wings beyond Sydney’s city centre, encompassing six different Sydney hubs; including Liverpool for the first time.
The most radical change announced so far for this year’s Fringe Festival is its momentous take over of Sydney’s centre of arts and nightlife; Oxford Street. Fringe Festival Director Kerri Glassock said, “This news is really exciting because it’ll be the first time we have done a precinct wide event like that.” Joining forces with all the big Oxford Street venues we love and know best, plus laneway street venues and extensions to the Kings Cross area, the festival’s opening night party aims to be its biggest yet. Noting the history of the festival’s launch on very small streets, Glassock said, “this Fringe Ignite will be a very different one for us, as it will be about having multiple locations filled with live music across the precinct, all happening over one afternoon and evening.” This strip of the city will be host to live music and performances that span across multiple shopfronts, bars, restaurants and other venues in the area, on a scale that is unique to Sydney Fringe.
The festival will end in the same efflorescent fashion it started, as it collaborates with Heaps Gay to host Sydney’s most vibrant party. Heaps Gay will be taking over the National Art School as well as hosting after parties at venues along Oxford Street.
Perhaps most exciting for the ethos of inclusivity is the festival’s introduction to the Western Sydney area. The creation of a Western Sydney hub in Liverpool removes geographical disadvantages, and introduces greater opportunities for Western Sydney artists to get involved in Sydney Fringe Festival, by “bringing the festival to them”, as Glassock said.
“We are really keen to be Sydney Fringe Festival and not just city Fringe Festival, through spreading our footprints across the whole of Sydney”, Glassock said.
In fact, it is this inclusivity that makes Sydney Fringe Festival a uniquely inviting space for new and emerging artists. Distinct from curated arts festivals, where there are barriers determining which artists may use a space, Sydney Fringe Festival indiscriminately offers a platform to anyone seeking artistic expression. With over 70 per cent of the festival’s artists identifying as emerging or early career artists, according to Glassock, the opening of temporary spaces in unused shopfronts and warehouses, means that Fringe is “sometimes the only guaranteed place where an emerging artist can do a show.” Glassock said, “it is really important for young artists to have access to these affordable places so that they can test out their ideas and create a name for themselves”.
Such artistic platforms are all the more valuable amid the lock-out laws and recent threats to Sydney’s nightlife economy. It is therefore unsurprising that Fringe is passionate about reviving Sydney’s late-night offerings, with the festival providing a platform for the long term success of entrepreneurial artists. Glassock said, “I love the idea that an annual festival can have a lasting effect that reaches beyond the event and actually changes the landscape of the city.”
The festival will host a Dance Hub and Touring Hub, as well as a Circus Hub and Emerging Artist Hub in Sydney’s inner west. The full Sydney Fringe Festival program will be announced in August. For more information on Sydney Fringe Festival visit https://www.sydneyfringe.com/