Fringe 2021: West is best

Perth Fringe audiences can expect a 2021 program stacked with WA talent in local venues as artists re-emerge within the confines of border restrictions, limited cash and social distancing.

For the past nine years the festival has energised Perth’s cultural centre with local and imported acts across several social and performance ‘hubs’.

Fringe Festival director Amber Hasler said next year’s program would be 40 per cent smaller, with more acts performing in local venues.

“We’ve reduced the Festival footprint in terms of the hubs … it’s just the Woodside Pleasure Gardens and The Girls School,” she said.

“We’re really turning our focus to independent venues.”

Fringe has attracted criticism in the past for its high participation costs and low profit margins for artists.

Ms Hasler said the festival has restructured its participation costs to lessen the risk for artists, after a financially devastating year for the arts industry.

“The amount artists have to pay to participate is now taken at the end of the festival.

“We’ve abolished venue registration fees, all venues can take part … we’re going to keep announcing these special initiatives right up until the festival happens.”

Kiara with a K Producer Kiara Macri said Fringe’s fee restructure was a massive help to her 2021 Fringe show, but she would still attempt to mitigate financial risk.

Kiara with a K at Perth Girls School. (Photo: John Leonard)
Kiara with a K at Perth Girls School. Photo: John Leonard.

“Not being able to have full capacity just puts us at risk of making a loss. I invest my personal income into my shows … and have adapted to the current climate to make sure my budget stays low,” she said.

The 2020 ARTRAGE Fringe Impact Report revealed that although ticket sales were higher this year, the festival made less profit due to a lower number of big-name international acts like La Soiree.

Additionally, the report showed that foot traffic between Fringe’s central hubs was the primary driver for ticket sales.

Connections Nightclub entertainment manager Matthew McPharlin said people were attracted to the vibrancy and atmosphere of Fringe and with a reduced number of hubs, artists would not be able to rely on foot traffic.

However, Mr McPharlin added Perth club-goers had adjusted to pre-buying event tickets in response to COVID related restrictions.

“If it’s similar to how people are now with pre-buying nightclub entry tickets, people might be more inclined now to pre-buy online instead of waiting until the day.”

Last month, the City of Perth approved the Major Events and Festival Sponsorship Program together with the Matched Funding and Quick Access Grants.

City of Perth council candidate Liam Gobbert welcomed these ‘crucial’ funding streams for the success of arts industries.

“In my view they’re not frequent or fast enough. The process is long-winded and needs to be simplified to allow for quicker turnaround times,” he said.

Categories: Arts, Culture

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