18/11/2010 - 00:00

Fringe finds itself front and centre

18/11/2010 - 00:00


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THE Perth Fringe Festival will return next February thanks largely to the work of Artrage Festival chief executive Marcus Canning.

Fringe finds itself front and centre

THE Perth Fringe Festival will return next February thanks largely to the work of Artrage Festival chief executive Marcus Canning.

The development of a fringe festival – a festival of theatre that sits outside mainstream arts – has been one of three major projects for the former WA Business News 40under40 Award winner.

Mr Canning has also developed Artrage’s Northbridge arts venue, The Bakery, doubling its capacity, and recast himself as a sculptor after being commissioned to construct his first public sculpture – a $500,000 interpretation of St George and the dragon, located at the namesake cathedral.

It is hard to discern just what Mr Canning’s greatest achievement has been since winning the 40under40 Award in 2007, although as an artist the commissioning of his work has been a huge personal coup.

“That was something really significant for me. It kind of raises the bar in terms of public art in Perth. It is very different to the bronze kangaroos standing across the road,” he said.

In terms of Artrage, Mr Canning said doubling the capacity of The Bakery had been a major development for the organisation.

“The Bakery became this key venue for local music and other artists between 2006 and 2009 and that is when it was a good time to do a big rebuild. It had kind of got as far as it was going to go,” Mr Canning told WA Business News.

“That development was trying to take it to the next level as a really great interesting venue but without it losing the whole Bakery vibe ... without it being too clean and still having a kooky edge and identity.”

Mr Canning has been working on returning the Fringe Festival to its roots; the first festival was in 1983 and, after a hiatus from 1988 when it became Artrage, it will be relaunched as Fringe World in February in the recently bought Spiegeltent – a transportable turn of the century venue.

“We did a lot of consultation and there is this sense that now is the time for Perth to have a fringe festival,” Mr Canning said.

He expects the Spiegeltent will add another exciting element to the festival.

“Stepping into one of these things is like stepping in to a 1920s cabaret venue with bevelled mirrors, plush velvet, antique wood ... they are incredible environments,” Mr Canning said.

By launching a fringe festival, Artrage hopes to extend the arts to punters who normally wouldn’t be attracted to the arts.

“Fringes all over the world are such popular festival environments. They get accessed from a lot more people from broader demographics,” Mr Canning said.

Also in February, Perth will play host to some of the world’s most successful fringe festival directors, at a summit organised by Mr Canning.

“It is a great way for us to access the top of the industry as we are finalising our planning around the fringe,” he said.



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