Fringe themes reveal artists’ deepest concerns

Open access festivals like Sydney Fringe and Melbourne Fringe provide a snapshot of the current cultural zeitgeist.

Fringe Festivals help us see what artists are thinking about. Image: Rebecca Djentuh’s Strength in Visions 2 at Melbourne Fringe.

What are artists thinking about this month? As well as all the usual worries – how to pay the rent, where their next meal is coming from, which project they should work on next – the open-access programs of Sydney Fringe Festival (on now until 30 September) and Melbourne Fringe Festival (running from 14 September – 1 October) provide a fascinating overview of broader cultural concerns.   

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Richard Watts is ArtsHub's National Performing Arts Editor; he also presents the weekly program SmartArts on Three Triple R FM, and serves as the Chair of La Mama Theatre's volunteer Committee of Management. Richard is a life member of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, and was awarded the status of Melbourne Fringe Living Legend in 2017. In 2020 he was awarded the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards' Facilitator's Prize. Most recently, Richard was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Green Room Awards Association in June 2021. Follow him on Twitter: @richardthewatts