Melbourne Fringe

About Us

For 2.5 weeks in October, Melbourne Fringe transforms our city into a platform for every kind of artform imaginable, supporting over 3,000 artists to present 450+ works in 170+ venues to more than 360,000 people.

Our open access Festival champions cultural democracy – art for anyone. We celebrate freedom of artistic expression, we take voices from the margins and amplify them across the city. Fringe embraces risk through our uncurated festival which supports anyone to participate.

We work year round as educators, promoters, and creators. We are supporters, we are challengers, we rock the boat and we question the status quo.

Our participants and our audiences are at the heart of what we do. They are the risk-takers and the art-makers. They are creative, they are bold, they are diverse. They are the artists at the start of their careers, they are the artists launching into the next echelon, they are the big names trying out brand new ideas, and sometimes, they are just everyday people who have something big to say.

Our Festival is unlike any other. It takes place in theatres and galleries, but also in living rooms, in alleyways, in bookshops and libraries, in restaurants and cafes, in the backseat of cars – anywhere you can imagine. By pushing boundaries and illuminating new thoughts and ideas, our Festival transforms not only our city's places but its people too. Not many come out the same way they go in.

We have evolved across our 37 years, beginning in 1982 as the Fringe Art Network. While we stay committed to our roots – a collaborative encouraging, representing and uniting artists of all disciplines – we have matured to become one of our state’s most significant arts organisations that supports the generation of new work, discovering artists and new ideas.

What do we do? Read on my friends, read on.

Open-Access Program

Every year our Open Access program features 450+ events by Melbourne's most interesting (and independent) artists and community members across every possible artform imaginable. Big names stand-by-side with emerging artists and everyday citizens with something to say. 

Common Rooms

Located in Melbourne's iconic Trades Hall, Common Rooms is our year-round home for independent artists, for workers and for people who like to party. It's a meeting place housing a licensed performance space and a salon, for one-off and regular events, including live music, performance, comedy, cabaret, dance parties, spoken word, workshops and rehearsals.

Fringe Hub and Club Fringe

The Fringe Hub is the epicentre of all things Fringe and features a bold program of events at Trades Hall. Our legendary Club Fringe is our meeting place, our town hall, our city square (AKA the social heart of the Festival), a place for our community to gather for some eye-opening free performances. 

Made by Fringe Program

Melbourne Fringe is unlike other Fringe festivals. We take creative risks too. Each year, we collaborate with Australia's leading artists, companies and venues to commission and present a free program of new and bold public artworks for all of Melbourne to enjoy.

These works put the process of art-making directly into the hands of the citizens of Melbourne, calling on them to contribute their thoughts, voices and bodies to the creation of the work.

Hundreds of thousands of people engage with these works over the Festival, with many gaining a long touring life across Victoria, Australia and the world.

Fringe Furniture

Our open access design exhibition – featuring furniture, homewares and sculptures – in which anyone can submit a piece, places the emphasis on impossibility over practicality – and has done for over 30 years.

Fringe Awards

36 Category, Professional Development, Touring and Special awards are presented each year, chosen by a panel of over 120 industry judges.

Workshops and Forums

We lead a program of skills development workshops and forums to guide our participants through the process of making work – we're there to help every step of the way.

Compass Navigate

An inclusive workshop and mentorship for people who are Deaf or experience disability, resulting increased skills, confidence and career pathways in the arts. Compass Navigate is a key initiative of our Access and Inclusion Program.

Deadly Fringe

A commissioning and mentorship program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander producers and artists to amplify Indigenous voices in the arts. You can read more about our Deadly Fringe program here.


We bring leading international and local artists together and create space for the exchange of ideas, artform development, art-making and new collaborations to form.

Money for Art

Our Money for Art program helps Fringe artists produce their work, providing them access to a variety of Microgrants including ShowSupport – a match making service between donors wanting to commission a Fringe work and independent artists.

Festival Programs and Reports

Find out more – read our Festival Reports online here:

Want a snapshot of past Festivals, take a look at our archive of Melbourne Fringe programs.

In 2012, Melbourne Fringe celebrated 30 years. Read more about the History of Melbourne Fringe.