2021 Melbourne Fringe Festival Award Winners Announced

Melbourne-Fringe-YUMMY-How-to-Make-a-Western-photo-by-James-WelsbyAs Victoria eases its way out of lockdown, an extraordinary Melbourne Fringe Festival comes to an end, Australia’s Independent Artists have once again been triumphant as the 2021 Award Winner’s are announced.

2021, the year that we thought lockdowns would be behind us, has again proved to be an extraordinary display of the resilience, the creativity and the innovation of Australia’s independent artists under pressure – and the hunger Victorians have for the creative arts.

By the numbers, the Melbourne Fringe Festival performed strongly under extraordinary circumstances, with over $100,000 in ticket sales for what was a largely digital Festival. Despite the reduced program, the average show in 2021 sold 60% more tickets than 2020 – an indication of audiences embracing digital delivery formats.

Artist support from audiences was also strong this year, with over 20% of ticket buyers in 2021 taking advantage of the newly implemented overflowing ticket option – where audiences could pay more on top of their ticket price to support the participating artists.

Melbourne Fringe Creative Director and CEO Simon Abrahams recounted the extraordinary path of creating an almost entirely new Festival in two-and-a-half weeks.

“After the lockdown extension was announced in September, mere weeks before the Festival was to commence (and only days after the program was announced) our Festival staff worked tirelessly with artists to completely reconfigure the Festival for lockdown,” he said.

Of the original 479 planned events, 126 emerged after dozens of artists pivoted to digital events or reimagined them as Covid-safe affairs,” said Abrahams. “Our phoenix festival helped Victorians ride out their roadmap.”

“In typical Fringe style, our incredible artists found ways to adapt to their circumstances, with events online, outdoors, mailed to audience’s homes, and even one that took place on your toilet. But one things united them – all our events helped Melburnians to see some art in the midst of lockdown.”

“I couldn’t be prouder of our artists and our staff for accomplishing something extraordinary – delivering a Festival in the world’s longest lockdown – not once but twice,” said Mr Abrahams.

The 2021 Melbourne Fringe Festival kicked off with the virtual event Art Guides the Way – an almost spiritually cathartic affair where ten artists who had to cancel their in-person shows were given the task of transforming the Festival’s unused printed guides into new and extraordinary art.

The responses ranged from musical to ritualistic to comedic, and all lit up the online launch with a taste of the remarkable things to come.

Many of the Festival’s planned, signature events that could not proceed because of the sixth Melbourne lockdown will find new life later in the year and into 2022.

The Festival’s virtual reality takeover, Fringe Focus Taiwan, comes to iconic CBD rooftop venue Loop Project & Space Bar in mid-November once the city opens up (tickets go on sale soon).

Melbourne Fringe’s permanent party destination, Fringe Common Rooms at Trades Hall will also play host to a significant number of the rescheduled open access events from the 2021 program in February 2022 (on sale early 2022). A full list of the rescheduled 2021 Festival events can be found on the Festival website.

And what of the Melbourne Fringe Festival in 2022? Fringe will be turning 40, and plans are already underway for an enormous celebration. Past artists and audiences are asked to contribute their most vivid Fringe memories to the Story Bank, which remains open.

In partnership with State Library Victoria, the contributions to the Story Bank will be turned into a unique multimedia 40th anniversary exhibition – one of the many delights that await audiences in 2022.

The 2022 Melbourne Fringe will run 6 – 23 October. For more information, visit: www.melbournefringe.com.au for details.

Image: YUMMY – How to Make a Western – photo by James Welsby



Best Work in Festival Award:
Little Monster – Telia Nevile
psyche404error  – Margot Tanjutco

Best Work by an Emerging Artist Award:
Juniper Wilde: Wilde Night In – Alex Hines

Spirit of the Fringe Award:
Our Hair, Our Culture, Our Stories – Pasifika Storytellers Collective


Access Award: Supported by Arts Access Victoria
Pah! Deaf Storytelling Night – Sam Martin

Best Adaptation from Stage to Screen: Supported by Theatre Network Australia 
psyche404error – Margot Tanjutco

Best Emerging Indigenous Artist: Supported by Wilin Centre for Indigenous Arts & Cultural Development (VCA & MCM)
Brodie Murray for Billy’s Choice

Best Performance Ensemble: Supported by Theatre Network Australia
YUMMY: How to Make a Western – YUMMY Productions

Best Emerging Producer: Supported by MILKE
Isabella Perversi for What rhymes with orange?

Best Emerging Writer: Supported by the Emerging Writers’ Festival
Margot Tanjutco for psyche404error

Best Practice in Cultural Equity: Supported by Multicultural Arts Victoria
The People of Cabaret: We Are Here – The People of Cabaret

Emerging Company Incubator Award: Supported by Monash University’s Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music & Performance

Hybrid Touring Market Ready Award: Supported by Regional Arts Victoria
Streaming Seamen! The Digital Sea Shanty Spectacular – The Shanties Choir with Alex Morris, Beatrice Lewis, Victoria Falconer-Pritchard, Will Hannagan and Cameron Stewart

The Art Unbound Award: Supported by Experimenta
JSMR – Jessica Stanley

The Headroom Award: Supported by RISING
Ruthless World – Ken Chau, Derrick Duan, Roshelle Fong, Paxus Productions, Christie Widiarto and Helen He

The Phantasmagorical Award: Supported by Temperance Hall
That One Time I Joined the Illuminati – Lou Wall

Sound and Technical Excellence Award: Supported by Front of House Productions
Hey Hey It’s Lockdown! – Game Boys Comedy

Young Creatives Award: Supported by SIGNAL
Brodie Murray for Billy’s Choice


The NSW Tour Ready Award: Supported by Sydney Fringe
YUMMY: How to make a Western – YUMMY Productions

The NZ Tour Ready Award: Supported by New Zealand Fringe
Juniper Wilde: Wilde Night In – Alex Hines

The QLD Tour Ready Award: Supported by Brisbane Comedy Festival
That One Time I Joined the Illuminati – Lou Wall

The SA Tour Ready Award: Supported by Adelaide Fringe
Streaming Seamen! The Digital Sea Shanty Spectacular – The Shanties Choir with Alex Morris, Beatrice Lewis, Victoria Falconer-Pritchard, Will Hannagan and Cameron Stewart

The WA Tour Ready Award: Supported by FRINGE WORLD Festival
Dazza and Keif Reenact the Titanic Movie Playing All the Roles – Dazza & Keif


Best in Experimental Design Award:
Jessica Broad for Bento

Best in Furniture Award:
Anthony Yang for 7 Teardrops

Best in Homewares and Object Design Award:
Madison Elrick for Here you go

Best in Lighting Award:
Marta Figueiredo for Stardust Lamp

Design Fringe Mentorships: Supported by the Victorian Women’s Trust
Aviva Same for Dismembrium
Jillian Stevenson for Baggage

Design Futures Award: Supported by Authentic Design Alliance
Marta Figueiredo for Stardust Lamp
Kathleen Prentice for Melt Console
Kirby Bourke for Simple(y) (a)chair
Jillian Stevenson for Baggage
Lauren Haynes for Foli side table/stool

Design Innovation Award: Supported by MPavillion
Marta Figueiredo for Stardust Lamp


Best Feminist Work: Supported by MC Security
Juniper Wilde: Wilde Night In – Alex Hines

Industry Trivia All-Star Champion Award:

Director’s Choice:
Simon Taylor’s Comedy Picnic – Simon Taylor

People’s Choice Award:
YUMMY: How to Make a Western – YUMMY Productions

Fringe Living Legend:
Dr Lou Bennett AM – Lou Bennett is a performer, songwriter, musical and artistic director, composer, actor, soundscape and music designer and educator from the Yorta Yorta and Dja Dja Wurrung people in Echuca, Victoria.