The following excerpt is taken from a TimeOut article published on the 6th August 2021.
By Stephen A Russell.
The city’s already pummelled arts scene has been dealt major blow with the announcement of the cancellation of the 2021 Sydney Fringe Festival. The city-wide cultural happening is a major event in Sydney’s arts calendar, but with rehearsals unable to proceed in August, the September showcase was deemed impossible to present.
The decision to pull the plug affects more than 1500 artists and 40 venues, and represents a huge financial loss for the state’s economy too.
“The Sydney Fringe Festival is not only the largest independent arts festival in NSW but often the only opportunity many of our artists have annually to present original work and generate income, losing that opportunity two years in a row will have a devastating impact on our local independent arts sector,” Sydney Fringe CEO Kerri Glasscock said. “Our festival supports new work and new artists, it is a vital pipeline for the creation of local stories, developer for the local arts sector and commercial driver for the local community.”
The difficult call was also predicated on the public health risk in proceeding at a later date this year due to the state’s sluggish vaccination rollout, Glasscock added. “The Sydney Fringe places the safety of artists, staff and audiences above all else, and with 78 per cent of Sydney Fringe audiences under 48 years of age and over 80 per cent of artists under the age of 40, the risk that these groups would have low vaccination rates by September made the risk of performing live untenable.”
Glasscock underlined that the impact of the cancellation is wide-ranging. “It is an immense shame that Sydney will not get to see this program this year, and that the city will lose the vital cultural and economic impact the festival brings each year. Sydney Fringe has long been one of the leading advocacy voices for independent artists in NSW and this is where we will once again turn our attention.”
Sydney Fringe is working to secure critical new funding from the Create NSW Performing Arts Covid Support Package, to be funnelled directly to affected artists. The festival also announced We’ll Fringe Again, a fundraising campaign asking the community to ‘buy a ticket’ to the cancelled festival to support local artists and help secure a return in 2022. The fundraiser will be launched in a livestreamed event on Friday, August 6, at 6pm via the Sydney Fringe website. IT will included appearances by artists who were set to perform in September, including cabaret performer Alice Terry, comedian AJ Lamarque and dancer Lucky Lartey.
Above image: Letters to an unborn child, Sydney Fringe Festival 2018, by Jordan Shields.