New home for independent arts as Melbourne Fringe takes over Trades Hall

Two permanent venues for performing artists will support Melbourne’s thriving independent sector year round, as the result of Melbourne Fringe taking up a new residency at Trades Hall in Carlton, at the edge of the CBD.

The Fringe will relocate to Trades Hall from its current premises in Southbank in June, and will run two permanent performance spaces in the Old Ballroom and Annexe, as well as operating the Trades Hall bar.

Trades Hall is also set to become the new Festival Hub during the annual Fringe Festival every September, marking the first time since 2002 that the Fringe Hub will not operate in and around North Melbourne Town Hall. However, North Melbourne will remain a destination during Melbourne Fringe, with venues and artists continuing to present work in the district during the festival.

Up to a quarter of the Fringe Festival’s 450+ events will be programmed into Trades Hall in September following the historic venue’s renovation and restoration, due for completion in June 2019.

The restoration includes the installation of internal lifts, and the move will help fulfill Melbourne Fringe’s goals around access, diversity and inclusion with a centralised, accessible and democratic space as the Festival’s new civic heart.

"Melbourne Fringe’s move to Trades Hall fulfils a long-held ambition to create the most accessible, supportive and dynamic space to celebrate Melbourne’s independent arts sector," said Simon Abrahams, Melbourne Fringe’s Creative Director and CEO. "This is a game changer for our organisation and for the 3,200+ independent artists with whom we collaborate every year to make extraordinary things happen." 

Abrahams said 12 different venues would operate in and around Trades Hall during the Fringe Festival proper. Elsewhere in the year the Fringe will run "two spaces that will be constantly here for artists and designed to compliment the work of the festival. We don't want to run a festival year-round; it will be a festival three weeks of the year with the other 49 weeks supporting the independent arts," Abrahams explained.