Artist registrations have now opened up for the 2012 Sydney Fringe Festival, which will kick off from 7th-30th September 2012. This year Sydney Fringe Festival will be directed by Richard Hull. We grabbed him for a quick chat about his new plans for the festival this year and his 14 years of experience in the arts industry both in Australia and the UK.
Essentially, what is Sydney Fringe Festival?
It is the largest alternative visual and performing arts event in NSW. An open-access festival that gives everyone the opportunity to be involved, wherever they may be in our great city. It encompasses all genres from comedy to music to theatre to cabaret to visual arts to burlesque and beyond. It is a time for risk, discovery and adventure. A three week celebration of the strange and the beautiful.
How does Sydney Fringe Festival differ from other cultural festivals?
The main difference with an open access fringe festival is that anyone can have a go. There is no curatorial panel or particular artistic imperative. The beauty of this model is that it offers a platform, free of judgement and influence, to performers and artists who might otherwise not easily find one. It also allows established artists to try out new or different material away from the critical spotlight of a commercial or international festival.
In a bustling metropolis like Sydney, this Fringe festival is all about surprising delights in unexpected places.
Tell us a bit about your widespread experience in the arts industry both in Australia and abroad. How did you start out in the industry?
My first job was as a stagehand in my local theatre. My interests developed into lighting and lighting design, stage and production management and then venue management and producing. I managed a number of theatres in London’s West End including the Donmar Warehouse (with Sam Mendes), Wyndham’s, Comedy Theatre, Vaudeville Theatre and the Prince Edward Theatre, opening Mary Poppins for Cameron Mackintosh and Disney. My parallel career spanned 14 years as a producer on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and with my own independent production company. Prior to taking up my current role at the Fringe, I headed the Customer Service and Front of House operations at Sydney Opera House for three years.
How do you find working with the Sydney arts scene in comparison to the arts scene in the UK?
I find all arts environments, wherever they are, have a lot of commonality and are very interconnected. The same people often pop up! Once you get to know the different artists, companies and venues it quickly becomes familiar territory. However, the UK scene is obviously much larger. In London there are 50 major commercial theatres in the small West End precinct alone, plus Off-West End, Fringe and beyond this a network of often vibrant regional art scenes. Only New York rivals this breadth and depth.
How are you planning to expand Sydney Fringe Festival in 2012?
By taking the festival open-access, moving away from the curated model of year one, we remove any restrictions on participation. This allows the festival to flex and spread its own wings. We have launched Fringe Local to encourage venues and artists who lay beyond our Central Precinct (Inner West, East and CBD) to jump onboard.
Tell us your latest addition to the festival Springboard. How does it work?
Springboard will offer one emerging artist, group or company a series of practical measures that will assist them to get an original work from the page to the stage for the 2012 festival. We will waive certain fees, provide valuable one-on-one mentoring sessions with industry experts, provide rehearsal space, a marketing package and generally offer support throughout the process. Info and application details are available on our website. We are also offering artists development through our Best of Sydney Fringe in Edinburgh initiative which fast-tracks selected shows into the worlds largest arts festival, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Is there any event on the festival program that particularly stands out for you this year?
Too early too tell! Online Registration remains open until May 11th. However, our Fringe Club in Newtown, Five Eliza, will surely be bigger and better than ever in 2012, so everyone should pay me a visit there. Mines a Sav Blanc, thanks.
How can artists get involved with Sydney Fringe Festival 2012?
Click on ‘Register’ at sydneyfringe.com and follow the steps. There is useful information available in our downloadable handbooks. Registering is still only $20 before March 31 and $30 thereafter. We have been thrilled with the response this year so far, so don’t dilly dally too long is my advice!
For more information on Sydney Fringe Festival head here.