Artist Opportunities

Deadly Fringe

Deadly Fringe unearths and nurtures brand-new work by First Nations artists.

Now in its fifth year, Deadly Fringe continues to add to the creation of an exceptional body of works by First Nations artists that have reached thousands of audiences, toured the country and won multiple Melbourne Fringe and Green Room awards.

Deadly Fringe is committed to centering First Nations voices and perspectives, offering financial backing to artists, as well as access to First Nations Yarning Circles, mentorships and discount tickets for mob.

Each year the commissioned Deadly Fringe artists are supported by emerging First Nations producers. Alongside producing these works for the Festival, they facilitate Yarning Circles, do community outreach and engagement; creating safe, blak-only spaces for community to come together. The emerging First Nations producers are mentored by First Nations leaders in the industry.

Deadly Fringe 2021

The 2021 Deadly Fringe program unearths and nurtures a suite of First Nations artists, supported by our Deadly Fringe Program Coordinators Kimberly Lovegrove and Digby Mercer working under the mentorship of Laila Thaker, Eugenia Flynn and Wesley Enoch. Following our digital Festival in 2021, some of these works are being presented in person throughout the year, and you’ll be able to catch some at the 2022 Festival.

  • BLAK JEWELLERY FINDING PAST, LINKING PRESENT. Contemporary jewellery exhibition by 11 Victorian First Nations Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and designers participating in the first year of the Koorie Heritage Trust’s inaugural Blak Design program. Presented in the 2021 Melbourne Fringe Festival.
  • Bridge by Ngioka Bunda-Heath with Theodore Cassady, Gabriela Green Olea and Josh Twee. Indigenous dancers Ngioka Bunda-Heath and Theodore Cassady, along with refugee descendants Gabriela Green Olea and Josh Twee, explore their individual familial histories and cultural heritage while navigating colonial/western society. Co-presented with Dancehouse, 16-19 March 2022.
  • Of the Land On Which We Meet by Harley Mann (Na Djinang Circus) is a contemporary circus work that tackles the spiritual, and psychological value of land and being “on country” in a modern context. Presented at Fringe Common Rooms, 25-28 May 2022.

These commissions will be presented in the 2022 Melbourne Fringe Festival:


  • WARRIORS R OUSSS!!!!  by Racheal Oak Butler and Kamarra Bell-Wykes. Step inside the dojo. Here you will learn self-defence, self-empowerment and come to understand the power dynamics of our society.
  • Minyerra by Neil Morris. Yorta Yorta, Dja Dja Wurrung, and Wiradjuri artist, Neil Morris leads an interdisciplinary cast of musicians reimagining his powerful, decolonial anthems from DRMNGNOW. In a night of music, spoken word and political performance, Minyerra is performed in the Yorta Yorta language and is full of ethereal soundscapes that mirror our country.
  • Design Fringe Commission: birli nganmantha (eating together) by Nicole Monks. First Nations artist Nicole Monks will create a new work to act as the centrepiece of Design Fringe at its new home at Linden New Art. The large-scale installation birli nganmanha* (eating together) will include crockery and cutlery made from natural materials found on Yamaji Country.
Of the Land on Which We Meet. Photo by Annie Fitzer

Deadly Fringe 2020

Image by Yarli Creative

In 2020, Deadly Fringe became more important than ever and we directed much needed funding to keep First Nations artists doing what they do best.

Over $35,000 provided in financial support for First Nations artists and artworkers, and five Melbourne Fringe awards were given to Frist Nations artists.

Deadly Fringe Commissioned two visual artist exhibitions that were presented on our Digital Fringe Platform:

  • Us by Rosie Kalina, a filmed mixed media exhibition of photographs featuring Aboriginal women, femmes and non-binary people.
  • Healing through Buliana (Pregnancy) by Madison Connors, a series of digital and arcrylic media of pregnant silhouettes illustrated with traditional symbols and marking to express the artist’s gratitude for women. This work won the Best Feminist Work award for 2020.

Emerging First Nations Producer Tuuli Narkle supported the production of these works in her role as Deadly Fringe Program Coordinator.

Deadly Fringe 2019

In 2019 we partnered with the Koorie Heritage Trust to focus on visual art. The program featured Current by Piera Van Sparkes, Kalkadoon by Arkie Barton and Edwards Gammin Cafe by Gammin Threads’ Tahnee Edwards and her dad, Uncle (Choco) Talgium Edwards. Edwards Gammin Cafe was nominated for the Best in Visual Arts Awards.

The three works were linked by the theme of connection to home and memory, which they all explored in different ways whilst incorporating the specificity of the site into their works.

Emerging Deadly Producers Kalyani Mumtaz and Savanna Kruger supported the Deadly Fringe artists, bringing their rich and varied experience and connecting artists and community.

Deadly Night, Melbourne Fringe 2019. Photo by Michael Jalaru.

Deadly Fringe 2018

Liyan, Melbourne Fringe Festival 2018. Photo by Duncan Jacob

In its its second year, and after the roaring success of the first Deadly Fringe 2018 featured new work from three First Nations artists, supported by two First Nations producers and in partnership with ILBIJERRI Theatre Company

Writer, performance artist, storyteller and musician Declan Furber Gillick created Bighouse Dreaming, a piece of theatrical storytelling about the experience of a young Aboriginal person in the NT Youth Justice System. Bighouse Dreaming won multiple awards at the Festival and the Green Room Awards and has gone in incredible success, performing at Arts Centre Melbourne as part of YIRRAMBOI Festival in 2021.

Matriarch by award-winning actress and writer Sandy Greenwood on a beautiful performance piece telling the true stories of four generations of First Nations Women. Matriarch returned as a digital work in our 2020 Festival and was nominated for Best Theatre.

Sermsah Bin Saad’s Liyan premiered at the Melba Spiegeltent. Using dance, theatre, song and poetry the show followed the stars, weaving a tale of getting lost and finding yourself.

Guided by our two emerging First Nations producers Caleena Sansbury and Laila Thaker, these artists delievered another program of deadly work.

Deadly Fringe 2017

In its first year, provided support and mentorship for artists Joel Bray and Kate ten Buuren and emerging producers Kalinda Palmer and Levi Weston. Joel Bray’s Biladurang won the Best Performance award and had a return season at Melbourne Fringe’s VCR Fest in 2020. Joel Bray now sits on the Melbourne Fringe board.

“Deadly Fringe was an amazing opportunity that has more than opened doors for me. As an emerging, Indigenous performance-maker being a part of Deadly Fringe gave me the exact balance of mentoring and support with artistic freedom to make my work.” – Joel Bray

Kate ten Buuren’s dis place, a collective exploration of gentrification and displacement, was the genesis for Kate’s 2019 Hamer Hall takeover Dis rupt.

dis place, Melbourne Fringe Festival 2017. Photo by Theresa Harrison

Deadly Fringe partners and supporters

Deadly Fringe Partners


Cultural Partner

Deadly Fringe is supported by Craig Semple