Melbourne Fringe Moves To People’s Palace

Melbourne Fringe is moving its Festival Hub to the historic Trades Hall, where it will also open a year-round licensed venue dedicated to supporting the independent arts sector.

In September, Fringe will move a quarter of the Festival’s 450+ annual events to Melbourne’s city centre following the renovation and restoration of Trades Hall, due for completion in June 2019, which includes the installation of internal lifts. The move will help fulfil Melbourne Fringe’s access, diversity and inclusion goals with a centralised, accessible and democratic space as the Festival’s new civic heart.

“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 Simon Abrahams, Melbourne Fringe’s Creative Director and CEO. “This is a game changer for our organisation and for the 3,200+ independent artists with whom we collaborate every year to make extraordinary things happen. I can’t wait for our new-look Festival from 2019, as well as our new venue which will support our work year-round.”

For Martin Foley, Minister for Creative Industries, Fringe’s move to Trades Hall supports independent artists with access to space. “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. 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.”

City of Melbourne Chair of the Arts, Heritage and Culture portfolio, Councillor Rohan Leppert, said Melbourne Fringe is an iconic event on the city’s calendar. “We’re excited to see what the future holds for Melbourne Fringe as the festival moves even closer to the CBD and takes up residence in the historic Trades Hall,” Cr Leppert said. “Council has been a proud supporter of the Melbourne Fringe for the last 20 years, unearthing some of Australia’s most talented artists. The City’s relationship with Fringe is as strong as ever and after such a great 2018 program I can’t wait to see the vast array of shows and performances on offer in 2019.”

“Trades Hall has been a place to support emerging artists since our very beginnings – in the very first Trades Hall building in the 1860s,” said Luke Hilakari, Secretary, Victorian Trades Hall Council. “Melbourne Fringe is a precious institution that will continue to bring many artists and art lovers together”.

Melbourne Fringe’s move to Trades Hall will include its Festival Hub and Club, a year-round licensed venue, staff offices and storage all under one roof for the first time. To launch the new year-round venue, DJ Andrew McClelland is bringing his fortnightly dance party Finishing School back to Trades Hall in November. Since 1998, Melbourne Fringe has centred its Festival Hub in North Melbourne, including at the North Melbourne Town Hall and the Lithuanian Club, and North Melbourne will continue to be a destination during Melbourne Fringe.

The 2018 Melbourne Fringe Festival achieved record breaking ambitions with over 350,000 people attending 448 events – including 255 world premieres – in 152 venues across greater Melbourne. A particular focus on access and diversity saw 100 Aboriginal or Torres Strait islander artists, 775 LGBTIQ+ artists and 198 artists identifying as Deaf or with disability present work as part of the Festival.

Melbourne Fringe was established in 1982 as an annual open access festival that champions cultural democracy and supports anyone to participate in the arts. Fringe programs include the annual design exhibition Fringe Furniture, participatory public art commissions, children’s programs as well as its First Nations program Deadly Fringe, disability and Deaf arts programs, mentorships, workshops, residencies, forums, awards and touring support.

This move is proudly supported by Creative Victoria and the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust.