City of Perth and Woodside are upping their input into Fringe World Festival this year as the arts event expands with new locations and online activity.
Fringe World Festival takes a creative approach to providing value for its partners, according to chief executive Marcus Canning, with a new event in the heart of the city resulting from the City of Perth’s decision to increase its sponsorship to $900,000 across a three-year period.
The Buskers Weekender, inspired by Edinburgh’s Royal Mile during that city’s famous Fringe season, will bring an array of circus and street performers through Forrest Place and the Murray Street Mall, filling seven stages from February 2-4.
Mr Canning told Business News the additional City of Perth funding, up from $100,000 provided for 2017, came from a new competitive process that the city rolled-out for its cultural and events sponsorship.
“When we think about what we can do to provide and stimulate extra value for the people we work with, for the partners, it’s a very different thing to think about how we can do something interesting with Kleenheat and Gage Roads (corporate partners) to how we can raise the bar for the city,” he said.
The Fringe team then set about coming up with an event for the City of Perth that utilised parts of the city yet to hold a festival performance.
Mr Canning said one of the city’s priorities was to attract new people and enhance activity in its malls, which is where the idea for the Buskers Weekender began.
Fringe World director Amber Hasler said the weekender was all about showcasing the buskers and performers who came to fringe.
“These stages are jam-packed, full with the weird and the wonderful; fire acrobats, mime, and comedy all in there,” she said.
On top of the minimum $250,000 a year it commits as a principal partner, Woodside will fund a new online festival review platform called Fringe Feed, where reviews by writers and media content will be collated to help people choose their preferred events.
“One of the things we’re constantly trying to do is to find ways, a lot of different ways, to help people decide what it is they’ll see,” Mr Canning said.
“For people coming to Fringe for the first time, when you pick up that printed program, some people call it the Yellow Pages it’s so fat, when you go into the website it can be hard to know where to start.”
Mr Canning said while Fringe Feed would have similar search functionality to Fringe’s primary website, its ‘feel’ would keep it at arm’s length to Fringe as it was not a PR platform.
Another Woodside-funded initiative for 2018 is the Homegrown Heroes video campaign, produced in support of Western Australian artists.
Mr Canning said Woodside came to Fringe with an idea to shoot video content with some WA artists designed for YouTube ‘viral stickiness’.
“They bounced this script off us, which made us go, ‘oh wow, that’s hilarious’,” he said.
“It’s a bit of a satire on MasterChef, but it features an array of local WA artists in the festival and this tragic, old (fictitious) Fringe artist called Terry La Rue, who’s taking them through a masterclass.”
The web series (#LETSFRINGE), which launched last week, was produced by ad agencies Juicebox and Mad Kids.
“We (Fringe) love it when a partner like Woodside comes to us with that, because it’s so Fringe, it’s such a Fringe thing to do and a little unexpected’,” Mr Canning said.
Principal partner Gage Roads Brewing Company also surprised Fringe with additional support for the artists – committing a portion of proceeds from every sale of its Hello Sunshine Cider to the Fringe Fund, Mr Canning said.
Hello Sunshine was recently added to Gage Roads’ permanent range after a successful limited edition run at Fringe in 2017.
One of the new attractions to look out for this year is The Showman’s Fair at the Urban Orchard, Ms Hasler said.
“It’s like a mini festival within the festival, but it’s this wonderfully super fun, very colourful Dutch festival and right at the centre of it is this beautiful dinner table on which a show takes place as people eat,” she said.
Ms Hasler said Fringe would be taking over The Ice Cream Factory on Roe Street this year, where the creators of La Soirée would be putting on a new production – Club Swizzle.
"It’s a club with a stage that runs straight down the centre with the bar built into it; there’s a band and this show is pretty high impact with acrobats flying through the air,” she said.