A Glass Half Full - some words on optimism from our CEO and Creative Director

When I danced this weekend with hundreds of other Melburnians at Multiply, we shared a collective moment of optimism. We clapped and jumped and threw our arms up and out to make something bigger than ourselves, something to help heal our city after a time we’d probably rather forget. Even the birds seemed to fly in celebratory formation, the perfect symbol of the hope that we held on to all year.

Making Multiply happen was an unthinkable task, and if it’s truly the symbol of the Melbourne Fringe Festival 2020, it’s just one of 1,904 performances of 262 events that somehow took place against all the odds over these last 18 days.

Every artist involved in making work – all 1523 of them – worked towards the Festival because along this year’s rollercoaster, they believed that there was light at the end of the tunnel and together we would somehow find a way to make it happen.

This isn’t the year we broke every box office record. This is the year we did something much more important. We made a statement that art matters. It gave hope and meaning and purpose. It made us laugh when we really bloody needed it. It connected us. It helped us express ourselves when we couldn’t quite find the words. It made us check our privilege and it reminded us that we still have a lot to learn and a long way to go. It showcased our resilience, our connectedness, and our collective creativity.

We did some beautiful things this Fringe. We took live music to nursing homes, recently out of hard lockdown, where 94 year-old Vincent got out his saxophone and starting jamming with the band. We rang a bell at midnight when theatre returned. We art-Zoomed with people all over the world. We put First Nations stories on our city’s biggest stage and we beamed them around the country. We had digital versions of ourselves walk around virtual furniture pieces and then we walked in the real, wet rain. We sang and we talked and because some things never change, we watched on four cameras as a man in a greenhouse wrapped himself in sticky tape.

When we decided that our festival would happen no matter what, we had no idea what we were in for, but we knew that we were affirming that art is central to our culture. Maybe this was most impactful, important work we’ve ever done.

It truly was an impossible festival. But somehow, against all the odds, we did it.

I am absolutely inspired by the Fringe artists and the team that made it happen.

I am so humbled and grateful for your support in getting us there.

Even for an eternal optimist like me, it was the perfect reminder that creativity really can make anything happen. And nothing could be more Melbourne than that.

Simon Abrahams, Creative Director and CEO


Image credit: Multiply, Melbourne Fringe Festival 2020. Photo by Gregory Lorenzutti.