Sydney Fringe Festival announces cancellation of 2021 lineup

Despite extensive risk planning, Sydney Fringe Festival has announced they will cancel the 2021 festival, set to take place throughout September.

Known as New South Wales’ largest independent arts festival, the cancellation has impacted more than 1500 local artists and 40 venues.

However, Sydney Fringe also announced that it would accelerate its ongoing advocacy work with two support initiatives for the independent arts community affected by the festival’s cancellation.

Sydney Fringe
Image: Lucky Lartey. Courtesy Sydney Fringe Festival.

Sydney Fringe Festival Director and CEO, Kerri Galsscock, said that the devastating decision was not made lightly, and congratulated the work that had been made, despite the chaos of the past 18 months.

“We are absolutely devastated to be cancelling a second festival. The impacts of this pandemic continue to wreak havoc on our sector,” they said.

“The resilience, passion, dedication, ingenuity and stoicism the independent arts community has shown over these past 18 months has been remarkable, and the quality of work they had produced for this year’s festival was exceptional despite all they had gone through.

“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.”

Part of Sydney Fringe’s support initiatives includes securing critical new funding that will go directly to affected artists under the Create NSW Performing Arts COVID Support Package.

Furthermore, Sydney Fringe has announced a new We’ll Fringe Again fundraising campaign, asking the community to ‘buy a ticket’ to the cancelled festival to support local artists by securing funding for their 2022 festival.

The fundraising campaign will be launched at a free live-streamed virtual event presented on Friday 6 August at 6 pm through the Sydney Fringe website and Facebook page.

The digital event showcases some of the programming planned for the 2021 festival, including performances by cabaret performer Alice Terry, comedian AJ Lamarque and dancer Lucky Lartey.

Sydney Fringe will also facilitate necessary discussions about the broader impacts of this current lockdown on the community.

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.

Despite the cancellation, Sydney Fringe confirmed that it’s working to secure funding for artists impacted, and support them through the festival’s cancellation with support from the NSW Government’s Performing Arts COVID Support Package, administered by Create NSW.

This funding will ensure that Sydney’s independent artists are safeguarded and that the impacts of the festival’s cancellation will be reduced on an already vulnerable community.

“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,” Galsscock said.

“This funding is a lifeline for the artists and producers we work with who have previously slipped through the cracks of Government support, and will go a long way to ensuring that Sydney Fringe can return in strength in 2022 bringing with it the immense cultural and economic impact it generates.”

We urge you to check out the live stream, held tonight, Friday, August 6 at 6 pm, on the Sydney Fringe website here, on the Facebook page here.