Melbourne Fringe Awards are an opportunity for Melbourne’s arts community to celebrate and acknowledge the diversity, professionalism and exceptional quality of work in each year’s Festival.
At Melbourne Fringe we present four different types of awards:
Information about Awards Eligibility can be found here.
The Best in Category Awards are judged by the Melbourne Fringe judging panels. The judging panels are a team of over 150 industry practitioners, drawn from a diverse range of fields and backgrounds. We are committed to ensuring that the diversity of judges represents to the diversity of artists in the Festival and in the Australian population. Judges are selected through a broad consultation process that is based upon significant contribution and experience in the sector. All works will be viewed by at least 2 panel members in order to be eligible for consideration.
In 2021, there will be a Best in Category Award for the following event categories:
The following criteria will be rigorously applied by the judging panel members for the Best in Category Awards:
Innovation – Is it inventive, ambitious, creative and adventurous? Does it demonstrate an original approach to artmaking in form and/or content? Does it contribute something new to Melbourne’s artistic community?
Realisation – Has it been well developed and thoroughly delivered? Are the elements of the work well-realised, regardless of the resources at the artists’ disposal?
Impact – Does it make an impression on you and/or the audience and does it stand out from other work in the category? Does it inspire discussion and ongoing thought?
Each judging panel will consider all eligible works to determine a selection of nominated works and the ultimate recipient. Selection will be made by the panel at large, by majority consensus.
Presented by a range of our partner organisations these awards recognise achievement in specific fields and provide mentoring and professional development opportunities within these fields.
Eligibility is at the discretion of Melbourne Fringe staff in consultation with the applicable award partner, and selection of each award recipient rests entirely with the relevant award partner.
In 2021, the following Artist Development Awards will be presented along with their opportunities as outlined below:
Supported by Arts Access Victoria
Best Emerging Circus Performer
Supported by Theatre Network Australia’s CaPT Initiative
Best Circus Ensemble
Supported by Flying Fruit Fly Circus
Best Emerging Indigenous Artist
Supported by Wilin Centre for Indigenous Arts & Cultural Development (VCA & MCM)
Best Emerging Performance Ensemble
Supported by Theatre Network Australia
Best Emerging Producer
Supported by MILKE
Best Emerging Writer
Supported by the Emerging Writers’ Festival
Best Participatory Work for Families Award
Supported by ArtPlay
Best Practice in Cultural Equity
Supported by Multicultural Arts Victoria
Emerging Company Incubator Award
Supported by Monash University’s Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music and Performance
Leadership in Circus
Supported by Circus Oz
Market Ready Award
Supported by Regional Arts Victoria
The Art Unbound Award
Supported by Experimenta
The Headroom Award
Supported by RISING
The Phantasmagorical Award
Supported by Temperance Hall
Young Creatives Award
Supported by SIGNAL
Presented by Festivals from across Australia these awards provide assistance to present your work at one of our partner festivals.These awards are chosen by representatives from the partner festival.
In 2021, there will be the following Touring Awards:
The New Zealand Tour Ready Award
Supported by New Zealand Fringe
The NSW Tour Ready Award
Supported by Sydney Fringe
The Queensland Tour Ready Award
Supported by Brisbane Comedy Festival
The SA Tour Ready Award
Supported by Adelaide Fringe
Design Fringe Best in Category Awards
Best in Experimental Design Award
Best in Furniture Award
Best in Homewares and Object Design Award
Best in Lighting Award
Design Fringe People’s Choice Award
Presented by Melbourne Fringe along with some of our key partners, the Special Awards recognise excellence from our participants in ways that aren’t covered by the Artist Development awards. This includes recognising technical excellence, emerging talent, great feminist work, outstanding venue management and much more. All events/participants in the Festival are eligible regardless of the number of performances, and recommendations are received from judges from all other categories, Tour Ready delegates and key arts industry representatives.
In 2021, there will be the following Special Awards:
Best Feminist Work
Supported by MC Security
Best Work by an Emerging Artist
Industry Trivia All-Star Champion Award
Melbourne Fringe Living Legend
People’s Choice Award
Sound and Technical Excellence Award
Supported by Front of House Productions
Spirit of the Fringe
Venue of the Year
2020: Bill Coleby
2019: Anni Davey OAM
2018: Susie Dee
2017: Richard Watts
2016: Rinske Ginsberg
2015: Ian Pidd
In 2020, we awarded a special Melbourne Fringe Legacy Award to the late Comrade Paddy Garrity. Paddy played an important role in bringing the arts to Trades Hall; setting the foundations for what is now a hub of creativity and activism. His invaluable contribution to the arts and social justice will endure.