Launch offers fringe festival sneak peek

Members of Feroce Cabaret, singer Jack Archibald and dancers Dee Coulter (left) and Charlie...
Members of Feroce Cabaret, singer Jack Archibald and dancers Dee Coulter (left) and Charlie Butler, hand out programmes at the Dunedin Fringe Festival launch yesterday. PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
Artists rejoice — the Dunedin Fringe Festival is less than a month away.

The city was treated to its first glimpse behind the curtain at the festival’s programme launch at Te Whare o Rukutia last night.

Dunedin Fringe Festival co-organiser Ruth Harvey said the programme launch was a chance for Dunedin people to get a sneak peek at what they could expect to see over the coming month, ranging from "affordable to free".

Among the 86 events on offer were Nadia Freeman’s The Girmit, a retelling of the untold history of indentured labour from India in Fiji, and Check Your Adult At The Door from local theatre company Suitcase Theatre, an R18 invitation to reconnect with your inner child.

Ms Harvey said the festival was all about providing opportunities to uplift and platform emerging artists.

Dunedin Fringe had distributed a total of $34,000 in artist grants this year, which would help 18 artists make their ideas a reality.

Along with their general and Pacific grants, this was the first year the festival had offered a dedicated Maori artist’s grant, she said.

It was important to create a resourced space that allowed different communities to participate in the festival.

"It just goes to show when you bring those resources to the table the relationships with artists from those communities, who might not have had those opportunities in the past, really start to flourish," Ms Harvey said.

Last year’s Fringe Festival was the first since the pandemic to be run at full scale, after the 2020 festival was cancelled a day before launching.

With incoming changes to Creative New Zealand funding next year, and the ending of pandemic funding, the arts funding scene nationally was becoming very difficult, Ms Harvey said.

"We’re OK for the festival this year, but next year is going to be a real challenge.

"Just like every year, our success depends on people getting out there, participating, buying tickets, showing their love and being willing to advocate for the value of the arts to our community when the time comes."

The 2024 Dunedin Fringe Festival runs from March 14 to 24.