About The Project

We know, we don’t look a day over 20. But in 2022, Melbourne Fringe is turning the big 4-0 – and we’re going to celebrate in fierce and Fringey fashion. In partnership with State Library Victoria, we’re putting together a pretty special exhibition and public program which will centre the stories of the artists, audiences, participants, volunteers, supporters and staff that have shaped Melbourne Fringe over the last forty years and will continue to shape its future. We’re inviting anyone and everyone to share their most vivid memory of Melbourne Fringe. The exhibition is mostly audio-based, so we’re asking you to record your voice telling your story. If audio isn’t accessible for you, you can also record a video or tell us in writing. Ready to go? Tell your story here.

History of Melbourne Fringe



Melbourne Fringe 1982 – Today

  • 1982 – Fringe Art Network is created after the closing of the Pram Factory.
  • 1983 – First Fringe Festival occurs presenting the work of 120 artists in 25 locations across Melbourne.
  • 1984 – Brunswick Street parade begins as an annual event promoting the Festival and the Fringe Arts Network and runs until 2001.
  • 1984 – Victorian Government investment begins. In 1984, the Spoleto Festival of Two Worlds expanded and Melbourne’s Fringe Arts Network became the Melbourne Piccolo Spoleto Fringe Festival for the next three years.
  • 1986 – Fringe Arts Network reclaims its independence from Spoleto and reorients itself as Melbourne Fringe.
  • 1986 – Fringe Furniture exhibition begins and continues today be the longest-running Melbourne Fringe event.
  • 1994 – First Key Message Partnership established with the TAC.
  • 1996 – Fringe Fashion Award begins and runs until 2001.
  • 1997 – Buzzcuts Program begins as a platform to publish reviews of Festival events and continues until 2016.
  • 1999 – Melbourne Fringe Hub model is created in North Melbourne and continues until 2018.
  • 1999 – The first Fringe Architecture exhibition begins and runs until 2001.
  • 2002 – Fringe Inventions begins and runs until 2004.
  • 2002 – Spencer Tunick photographs form the Festival’s keynote project.
  • 2006 – Digital Fringe begins and runs until 2010.
  • 2008 – Melbourne Fringe offices move from Easey Street to City Village in the City of Melbourne.
  • 2009 – Melbourne Fringe wins ABAF Australia Business Arts Marsh Partnering Award, 2009 presented to Melbourne Fringe for our partnership with Yarra Trams.
  • 2011 – Melbourne Fringe wins Tourism Victoria Award for Best Major Event or Festival.
  • 2011 – Economic Survey shows that Melbourne Fringe has an annual economic impact of over $12 million in the state of Victoria.
  • 2011 – Tour Ready Program begins.
  • 2012 – Melbourne Fringe in its 30th year is a 3 week-long Festival supporting the work of over 2000 artists in 150 locations across Melbourne.
  • 2013 – Melbourne Fringe On Tour, a new regional and outer-metropolitan program tours work from the Melbourne Fringe Festival, reaching eight regional performing arts centres and bringing independent work to new audiences.
  • 2013 – Melbourne Fringe invites digital artists, filmmakers and animators to participate in the Festival through Digital Creatures
  • 2015 – Melbourne Fringe wins Melbourne Award for Contribution to Profile by a Community Organisation.
  • 2016 – Sky Light by Robin Fox is the Festival’s keynote project.
  • 2016 – Ralph Mclean Microgrants program launches, supporting participation by marginalised communities.
  • 2017 – With project partner ILBIJERRI Theatre Company, Melbourne Fringe instigates Deadly Fringe, unearthing and nurturing new First Nations performance works and mentoring First Nations emerging producers.
  • 2018 – The dedicated position of Access and Inclusion Coordinator is created as a commitment to supporting people who are Deaf or with disability.
  • 2018 – XS Program of experimental, contemporary and live art for children begins.
  • 2019 – Melbourne Fringe moves its Fringe Hub to Trades Hall and open a year-round venue, Fringe Common Rooms, to support independent artists.
  • 2020 – Melbourne Fringe puts on two festivals during the COVID-19 pandemic and amidst months of lockdown, including developing a bespoke digital platform Digital Fringe and orchestrating a mass socially distanced participatory dance event Multiply.

About Melbourne Fringe


Melbourne Fringe democratises the arts. Our vision is cultural democracy – empowering anyone to realise their right to creative expression. We support the development and presentation of artworks by, with and for the people of Melbourne, running the annual Melbourne Fringe Festival, the year-round venue Fringe Common Rooms at Trades Hall, and a range of arts sector leadership programs.

We have evolved across our 39 years, beginning in 1982 as the Fringe Art Network. While we stay committed to our roots – a collaborative encouraging, representing and uniting artists of all disciplines – we have matured to become one of our state’s most significant arts organisations that supports the generation of new work, discovering artists and new ideas. We work year-round as educators, promoters, and creators. We are supporters, we are challengers, we rock the boat and we question the status quo.

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About State Library Victoria


In 1856 State Library Victoria opened as a ‘great emporium for learning’: a safe and open place for everyone, and a meeting point for memory, discovery, culture and ideas. While its form is ever-changing – physically and now digitally – the Library remains a place for all Victorians.

We believe that access to information and stories builds knowledge, strengthens community and inspires our future.

The State Library holds almost 5.5 million items including books, manuscripts, serials, photographs, artworks, maps and ephemera, preserving and sharing the voices, ideas, stories and experiences of all Victorians. It is rich, varied and relevant to all, regardless of age, ethnicity or economic circumstances. As custodians of the Collection, we are working to ensure it remains relevant and valued now, and for generations to come.

The State Library plays an important role in supporting the community recover from the impact of COVID-19 by empowering individuals and communities to achieve their own goals, igniting creativity and curiosity, facilitating learning, building cultural and social connections, and supporting equity and inclusion.

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Need help? Have questions? Get in touch. You can call us on (03) 9660 9600 (through the National Relay Service if you need) or email info@melbournefringe.com.au.