Introducing Sam Strong, our new Chair

You might have seen Sam Strong at the final Brunswick Street Parade in 2001 handing out flyers for his Melbourne Fringe show: a “bold reimagining” of Death of a Salesman. Now, 19 years later, Sam has returned home as the new Chair of our board.

“Like most artists in Melbourne, my career began at Melbourne Fringe, and I’m delighted to be coming home”, Sam says. “Fringe occupies the most cherished of positions in Melbourne’s cultural landscape. But if Fringe has a great past, it’s also in the middle of an incredibly exciting present under CEO Simon Abrahams.”

It’s an exciting time to come on board (pun definitely intended), with the opening of our new year-round venue, Common Rooms, and after a super successful Festival: in 2019, we increased ticket sales by a whopping 15%, with an audience of 382,166 people, across over 450 shows.

“I’m delighted to join the team after the successful move to Trades Hall, the establishment of year-round activities through Common Rooms, and off the back of the Festival’s most successful year to date”, says Sam.

We reckon we’ve won the jackpot too: Sam is one of Australia’s most successful and influential arts leaders and an award-winning theatre director. He lives and breathes independent theatre, after growing up on Melbourne’s indie stages: The Storeroom, La Mama, fortyfivedownstairs and Red Stitch (where he founded the Red Stitch Writers program). More recently, he has been Artistic Director of Queensland Theatre and Griffin Theatre Company, as well Associate Artistic Director of MTC and Chair of Circa.

Simon Abrahams, our CEO and Creative Director, says: “I’m thrilled that Sam Strong has joined the Melbourne Fringe Board as Chair at such an exciting time. With more Board appointments being announced soon, I’m so excited for this next chapter as our Festival, Common Rooms venue at Trades Hall and year-round sector leadership programs go from strength to strength. My huge and heartfelt thanks goes out to our former Chair Gideon Obarzanek for his support, vision and humanity over the last four years”.