About Fringe Common Rooms

Located in Melbourne’s iconic Trades Hall, Fringe Common Rooms is Melbourne Fringe’s year-round home for independent artists, for workers and for people who like to party. It’s a meeting place for Melbourne’s creative community, housing a licensed performance space and a salon for regular events and parties, functions, creative developments and rehearsals.

We’re a cultural enterprise, which means that we use bar sales from commercial events to support local artists with opportunities to test their ideas and reach new audiences. We offer a vibrant year-round program of accessible performances and events at Trades Hall, ensuring everyone can discover the best emerging and independent artistic talent.

Fringe Common Rooms is a culturally and physically safe space for our community, including LGBTIQ+, First Nations, people who are Deaf or with disability. We welcome all artists and creative people, as well as the residents of Trades Hall, workers and members of the union movement.

Fringe Common Rooms. All welcome, all year round.

Supported by Maureen Wheeler AO and Tony Wheeler AO



Art and culture have long been a part of Trades Hall. Musical and literary events raised funds for the first stage of the Trades Hall building in 1873, so the Hall was literally built on the arts. From 1997, Paddy Garritty and Jim Rimmer ran Trades Hall Arts, a year-round bar that supported the independent arts scene at a very critical juncture. This included being the second largest venue for Comedy and Fringe Festivals for a number of years, and a more general focus on theatre (including being a venue for Melbourne Workers Theatre, The Torch, Brian Munich and Friends), music (especially Indigenous music), literature (numerous launches and festivals featuring the likes of Christos Tsiolkas, Jeff & Jill Sparrow, Bob Ellis, Amanda Lohrey etc), and more.

From 2005-2017, Bella Union operated the space, supporting the independent arts – including significant Melbourne Fringe programs. Bella Union’s association with Trades Hall started with the premiere season of KEATING! The Musical in March 2005, progressed to operating across four seasons as a lively independent comedy festival hub between 2006 and 2009 before becoming a year-round proposition in late 2007 and the name of Trades Hall’s licensed venue. This included popular events including Finishing School, Soul A Go Go, Crap Music Rave Party, A Swinging Bella Christmas and annual Eurovision and New Year’s Eve Parties.

In 2018 Trades Hall undertook a significant restoration project for the building, restoring the rooms to their original heritage glory, and updating the space to meet modern disability and accessibility standards. Melbourne Fringe took over the lease in 2019, opening Fringe Common Rooms – a year-round home for the independent arts.