Melbourne Fringe democratises the arts. We have a vision of cultural democracy – empowering anyone to realise their right to creative expression.
We champion discovery and experimentation, supporting the development and presentation of artworks by, with and for the people of Melbourne. We run the annual Melbourne Fringe Festival, the year-round venue Fringe Common Rooms at Trades Hall, and a range of arts sector leadership programs that uplift and mobilise our community.
We started life in 1982 as the Fringe Art Network, and now in our 40th year (we look great for our age, don’t you think?) we remain committed to our roots – a collaborative, encouraging, representing and uniting of artists of all disciplines. Over four decades we have matured to become one of our state’s most significant and adventurous arts organisations. We usher artists forward from the fringes, champion big new ideas and help new work find its audience. We work year-round as educators, promoters, advocates, and creators. We are supporters, we are challengers, we rock the boat and we question the status quo. And we love a cheeky party or two.
Read more about where we’ve been and what we’ve done in our History of Melbourne Fringe.
Find out what we’ve been up to year on year in our Annual Reports
The Melbourne Fringe Festival is Open Access – that means that anyone with something to say is invited to come say it under our umbrella. With 450+ events presented annually by Melbourne’s emerging and independent artistic talent across every possible artform, in-theatre experiences sit alongside digital art, live streams and outdoor events made by big names, new names and everyday citizens scratching their creative itches.
We commission Australia’s leading artists to develop and present bold new public artworks for all of Melbourne to experience – for free. These projects put the process of art-making in the hands of the people, inviting hundreds of thousands of participants to use their voices, ideas and bodies to bring these exciting public experiences to life.
Festival Hub and Club Fringe
The Festival Hub at Trades Hall is the epicentre of our Festival and features a bold program of events across all artforms. Our legendary Club Fringe is our meeting place, our town hall, the social heart of the Festival and a place for our community to gather for some eye-opening free performances.
Design Fringe is the next chapter in our decades-long Fringe Furniture story – an open access design exhibition inviting contemporary designers to experiment and play at the cutting edge, and showcasing all types of object design including furniture, fashion and sculpture.
May we have the envelope, please? 36 Category, Professional Development, Touring and Special awards are chosen each year by a panel of over 120 industry judges and presented at our glittering Fringe Awards ceremony.
Participation in Melbourne Fringe’s programs is guided by two key principles: Freedom of Expression and Ensuring Community Safety. You can review our Community Guidelines here.
Melbourne Fringe Festival Programs
Take a trip down memory lane and check out our archive of Melbourne Fringe programs.
The Fringe Fund helps our very best emerging and independent artistic talent achieve incredible things, with Cash to Create contributing financially to the creation of brand new work and Cash for Equity levelling the playing field.
Fringe Common Rooms is Melbourne Fringe’s year-round home for independent artists, workers, and people who like to party. Located in Melbourne’s historic and iconic Trades Hall, it’s a place for all of Melbourne’s creative community to gather in a culturally and physically safe space. All are welcome at Fringe Common Rooms, all year round.
Our fully licensed performance space and salon play host to a vibrant year-round program of accessible performances and events, including live music, theatre, comedy, cabaret, dance parties, spoken word, plus private functions, creative developments, industry gatherings, meetings and rehearsals. What? We like to keep busy! Check out what’s happening at Fringe Common Rooms now <LINK>.
We’re a cultural enterprise, too, which means that we’re always re-investing in our community – we use bar sales from commercial events to support our best emerging and independent artistic talent with new opportunities to test out their ideas and reach new audiences.
So if you’ve got an idea for an event or want to hire our space – one-off gig, meeting, book launch, workshop, yoga class or private event all welcome – then check out our Venue Hire page, which tells you everything you need to know about Fringe Common Rooms.
Melbourne Fringe is blazing a path forward – and we’re bringing our community along with us. We deliver artist, artform and industry development programs all year round, inspiring, activating and sharing knowledge to strengthen our sector. We are dedicated to supporting emerging artists, increasing diversity in the arts and helping build sustainable careers.
Workshops and Forums
Skills development workshops and forums to guide our participants (new and not-so-new) through the process of making and presenting work.
Arts Industry Mentorships
Inclusive mentorships for emerging producers and Deaf or Disabled artists, resulting in increased skills, confidence and career pathways in the arts.
Commissioning and mentorship for First Nations producers and artists to amplify Indigenous voices in the arts. Read more about Deadly Fringe here.
Contemporary, experimental and live art for children under 12, inviting artists to think outside the art-for-kids box.
Supporting innovation in contemporary circus by inviting our most promising small circus companies to dream big and realise ambitious new work that’s market ready.
Leading international and local artists team up and create space for the exchange of ideas, artform development, art-making and new collaborations to form.