World Bar Kings Cross tranforms into a multi-level arts hub, Fringe HQ

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Entrance to the World Bar (2012) – Andy Vermeulen / Destination NSW

Lord Mayor Clover Moore and Minister for the Arts Don Harwin have today announced a total of $120,000 in funding to the Sydney Fringe Festival, allowing them to reopen the iconic Kings Cross nightclub as a multi-venue, open access arts hub called Fringe HQ.

The pilot project will run for six months and features four low-cost performance spaces across three levels, providing a home for emerging artists to develop their craft and for established artists to test out new ideas. A hospitality tenant will occupy the ground floor.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the project could generate a viable business model for other creative organisations looking to activate new, permanent performance space in the city.

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The iconic Coca-Cola LED billboard was for the first time in 40 years transformed into a continuous light show in 2017 – Ken Leanfore / Destination NSW

“Finding affordable inner city space for artists is a huge challenge,” Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.  “We are delighted to be working with the Sydney Fringe Festival, NSW Government and Greencliff to make Fringe HQ possible, including a $50,000 investment from the City of Sydney.”

Minister for the Arts Don Harwin added: “This is a great example of State and Local Government delivering on the Night-Time Economy Roundtable Action Plan. It aligns with our Cultural Infrastructure Plan 2025 and promotes the re-use of existing infrastructure. “Strategic partnerships like these are a great way of breathing new life into adaptive spaces across the city, so I’m delighted that our investment of $70,000 can contribute to this activation that showcases our vibrant and diverse arts sector.

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The re-invention of World Bar

“The Sydney Fringe Festival has a great history of activating underused spaces so it’s fantastic to help add Fringe HQ to its offering and increase both artist access to space and audience access to such a wonderful range of cultural experiences,” he said.

“We have a responsibility to help artists access creative space in the heart of the city and to support them to explore financially viable models in the pursuit of permanent creative space,” the Lord Mayor said.  “Supporting innovative new creative projects is one way we’re helping breathe new life into Kings Cross’ night time economy and cultural offerings.

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The El Alamein Memorial is itself a breathtaking example of modernist sculpture by artist Robert Woodward – Daniel Boud / Destination NSW

“In our submission to the ongoing parliamentary inquiry into Sydney’s night time economy, we recommended that the NSW Government explore innovative public-private partnerships with the aim of opening up more creative spaces for artists. While the committee’s report is due next month, I am hopeful this pilot project will prove a successful model for governments, property owners and the arts sector working together well into the future.  The Fringe HQ will be a welcome addition to a growing theatre precinct in Kings Cross, where the Hayes Theatre, SBW Stables Theatre, Kings Cross Theatre at Kings Cross Hotel, and the Old Fitz proudly operate.”

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The Sydney Fringe Festival celebrates local independent and emerging artists, art makers and performers. The City of Sydney has provided cash and in-kind sponsorship for the festival each year since its inception in 2010, which has boosted the festival’s growth and development. The City also funded a pilot project in 2015 to activate vacant retail space as temporary performance venues for use by the festival’s artists. This provided several projects with unique access to temporary space each year during the festival and for creative activities between festival periods.  The City’s current triennial sponsorship of the festival is valued at $220,000 cash plus $50,000 in-kind. At its meeting on 11 March, Council approved a one-off grant of $50,000 cash towards the start-up and establishment costs of Fringe HQ.

Screen Shot 2019-08-26 at 1.21.10 PM“We are incredibly excited and proud to be heading up this project in partnership with property owners Greencliff, long time partners the City of Sydney and our new partner the State Government,” Festival Director and CEO of the Sydney Fringe Festival Kerri Glasscock said. “It is a unique opportunity to be part of a new narrative for the Kings Cross area as a thriving theatre precinct, amplifying and adding to the already wonderful established spaces in the area.  Having non-curated space that is open to any and all artists to perform in is absolutely imperative to the health of the entire arts sector. Over the trial period, the project has the ability to double the existing current theatre activity in Sydney. That’s more shows, more voices and more Sydney stories reaching local audiences than ever before.  I hope that the independent arts community and audiences alike embrace this space and help us demonstrate to funding bodies that there is a need for subsidised, affordable, small to medium-sized cultural infrastructure that offers diverse programming and is accessible to all. I look forward to welcoming everybody to FRINGE HQ!”

Sydney Fringe Festival aims to transform Sydney’s live performance scene for audiences to explore unique entertainment while supporting the growing need for open access, affordable and non-curated performance spaces in inner Sydney. Each year the festival features more than 2,000 independent artists at more than 60 venues.

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