Melbourne Fringe Festival Awards

Eligibility and Information

Melbourne Fringe Awards are an opportunity for Melbourne’s arts community to celebrate and acknowledges the diversity, professionalism and exceptional quality of work in each year’s Festival. 

At Melbourne Fringe we present four different types of awards:  

  • Best in Category Awards 
  • Touring Awards 
  • Professional Development Awards 
  • Special Awards 

To be considered for any of these awards you must nominate your event during registration. By doing so you allow Melbourne Fringe to allocate complimentary tickets to judges of the awards for which your event is eligible.

A list of the 2019 awards and recipients can be found online here.


The objectives of the awards are as follows:


  • to identify and celebrate the diversity, innovation and bravery of Melbourne’s independent arts sector  
  • to recognise and profile outstanding artists  
  • to acknowledge the development of artistic practice  
  • to foster community for the independent arts sector  
  • to assist artists with further opportunities following their Melbourne Fringe Festival season

In 2020, there will be a Best in Category Award for the following genres:  

  • Comedy  
  • Dance & Physical Theatre 
  • Experimental 
  • Music  
  • Theatre 
  • Visual Arts & Film   
  • Words & Ideas 

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.  

This year, every event will be eligible for the Best in Category Awards as long as the artist has elected to be considered for the Awards Program. Events in genres that don’t have a Best in Category award are invited to nominate themselves for one of the existing panels (e.g. a children’s theatre work in the Kids genre would nominated to be considered for the Best in Theatre award). All works will be viewed by at least 2 panel members in order to be eligible for consideration.  

As most judges organise their schedules well in advance, cancellation of any sessions after program launch may affect their ability to attend your event and hence your eligibility for awards.



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. 

Many professional development awards require participants to self-nominate. This is a really simple form that just tells our award partner that you are interested in the professional development opportunity they’re offering. Invitations to self-nominate for these awards are issued via Artist Bulletins, so make sure you keep an eye on your emails. 


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.  

Touring awards require events to self-nominate. It’s the same form as the Professional Development Awards and lets our partner festivals know that you’re ready to tour and available for the dates of their festival. Invitations to self-nominate for these awards are issued via Artist Bulletins, so make sure you keep an eye on your emails. 


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.