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Fringe Festival feels John Hargreaves’ axe

johnboy 20 August 2009 76

Here’s some video of just how much John Hargreaves liked the Fringe Festival in February:

Today he’s announced that he’s getting rid of it and giving $30,000 dollars to a rather surprised National Folk Festival to do something Fringey.

Now have a listen to just how surprised the Folk Festival’s Jared Wilkins was when asked about this on 666.

But for real excitement, wrap your ears around Jorian’s Gardner’s anger over the manner, timing, and nature of the announcement.

Also fear not. Beer And Meat On A Stick Day (BAMOASD) is pretty much going to be the sole survivor of the reductions to the multicultural festival.

UPDATE: The ABC brings word that a startled Jon Stanhope is trying to hose down the fire as he edges John Hargreaves away from it:

    Mr Stanhope has apologised to Mr Gardner for how the situation has been handled.

    But he denies taking over responsibility for the event is a veiled rebuke of Mr Hargreaves.

    “It’s just a reflection of the reality of the changing structure and the changing nature of the way in which the Fringe Festival would in the future be funded,” he said.

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76 Responses to Fringe Festival feels John Hargreaves’ axe
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Dante Dante 9:54 am 20 Aug 09


Just what do “Fringe” and “Folk” have in common? I can’t imagine many of the Fringe acts from last year fitting well into the Folk Festival community.

What a damn shame, and we wonder why arty types keep leaving the capital in droves?

Deadmandrinking Deadmandrinking 9:29 am 20 Aug 09

jackal said :

Went this year to the Fringe for the first time, it was great, and in the centre of town so it was easy to get to. Definitely not trekking out to EPIC and shelling out $85+ for a NFF ticket (as good as I hear it is – for that sort of cash I can almost get a Big Day Out ticket) to see the Fringe.

Hear hear. It might have been worth saving up for a ticket when I was younger, but nowadays, I can’t see the point. If the labour government wants to cut down on it’s arts spending, then….


How much did the what I can only see as some random bits of metal shoved in the ground near the Gunghalin Drive Extension cost?

Yet, the fringe festival has an immediate audience and appreciation of it by them, instead of people wondering whether there’s been some sort of accident ahead of them.

Gus929 Gus929 9:25 am 20 Aug 09

Wanted to add my disappointment at this decision.

Stripping the fringe festival, and rolling the remnants into the folk festival, is an insult to the patrons of both festivals.

Fringe Festival is one of the only times when I feel like Civic gains any character at all.

@PB: I’m not sure “isn’t Glastonbury” is a good reason to abandon a festival. Tickets to the UK are kinda expensive.

Digga Digga 8:29 am 20 Aug 09

I think Pelican Lili answered my question before I asked it: this is the same Jorian Gardner who writes for City News? Interesting; I didn’t know of his mixed skills between journalism and writing articles that humiliate a minister (Jorian sat “slack jawed” through the post-luncheon interview) and then gets dealt the blow against him and his role of directing a public event.

In case you missed it:

Says it all really, that they didn’t speak to him up front. Another EPIC style shut-out. Take away his funding a little festival and maybe he’ll move on elsewhere and stop writing nasty pieces on the side.

bloodnut bloodnut 5:34 am 20 Aug 09

Very disappointing.

I’m not sure any animosity is required to be directed towards another arts event as a result. Only at a government that would do such a thing and blinker our local focus.

caf caf 11:34 pm 19 Aug 09

Bugger, the last Fringe was a lot of fun.

Brandi Brandi 10:22 pm 19 Aug 09

Don’t the Folkies get enough handouts? F***sake, talk about looking after your mates at the club.

RayP RayP 10:01 pm 19 Aug 09

It doesn’t seem to me that these sorts of decisions should be made at the whim of the Minister.

I think these sorts of decisions should be distanced from the Minister in some way, perhaps with some sort of advisory body of community representatives and people with recognised artistic talent.

Do other festivals have their programs decided by the Minister of the day (e.g. Adelaide and Perth Festivals)?

I think the role of a Minister should be to ensure that there are open opportunities and venues for artists to develop and express their artistic talents.

I don’t think that it is appropriate for a Minister to inflict his own ill cultured judgments on the ACT community.

As I recall, John Hargreaves “artistic” contribution to last year’s Fringe Festival was his performance of an ambling drunken stagger in the direction of the back of the stage.

This may have been a performance and an attempt at humour, but I thought it was embarrassing and degrading.

Sunbeam Sunbeam 10:01 pm 19 Aug 09

the national folk festival fringe????

what? that’s where the middle aged bureaucrats wear crushed velvet capes with fringes on them???

i find this unbelievably LAME and ANNOYING.

does this mean the NFF get MORE money and MORE excuses to NOT support local artisits???

grrrrrrrrrrrr… sunbeam is angry.

Mike Crowther Mike Crowther 10:00 pm 19 Aug 09

Labor = friend of the arts. Ha!

jackal jackal 9:55 pm 19 Aug 09

Went this year to the Fringe for the first time, it was great, and in the centre of town so it was easy to get to. Definitely not trekking out to EPIC and shelling out $85+ for a NFF ticket (as good as I hear it is – for that sort of cash I can almost get a Big Day Out ticket) to see the Fringe.

GB GB 9:52 pm 19 Aug 09

Th Fringe didn’t fit well with the multicultural festival — but so what? It had some interesting stuff, some unusual great art, and a useful degree of shambolic inappropriateness.

The folk festival is fabulous, and I’m sure they’ll find a great way to use $30,000; but it will be no replacement for the local focus and broad fringeness that Jorian pulled together (or didn’t, on occasion).

But maybe its part of the oppositional nature of fringes that they shouldn’t get sensible support from the gubmint, and should generally get stuffed around for no good reason.

Pommy bastard Pommy bastard 9:45 pm 19 Aug 09

I have to say I’ve never even noticed we had a “fringe festival”. Mind you the “multicultural festival” isn’t exactly up there with Glastonbury or WOMAD is it?

lulu lulu 8:59 pm 19 Aug 09

It is laughable to think that a modest injection of funds into the NFF budget can make up for the loss of the week-long Multicultural Fringe Festival in Civic Square. Who is kidding who? As well as being a highlight for audiences of all ages, the Fringe has become a testing ground for local work that travels to Adelaide and other Festivals around Australia and the world. The National Folk Festival – wonderful as it is – marks the end of the annual festival calender. It simply cannot fulfil the same purpose, for audiences or artists, that the Multicultural Fringe has fulfilled since 2004.

Thumper Thumper 8:47 pm 19 Aug 09

I loved the Fringe.

Ms Thumper and myself thought it was brilliant, just what canberra needed. It was simply fabulous. Something out of the box, not quite mainstreaqm, maybe a tad shocking, but always, always, fun…

Hargreaves hang your head you uncultured and boring noob. I guess you just don’t like burlesque, oh, and people having a good time…

georgesgenitals georgesgenitals 8:33 pm 19 Aug 09

I always thought the Fringe Festival was for people with messed up hair.

kakosi kakosi 8:22 pm 19 Aug 09

This is ridiculous, the Fringe Festival fitted perfectly with the Multicultural Festival. Seems like the ACT Government doesn’t realise what a good thing it was for the city.

Also sounds like the ACT government wants to kill the event off for some reason. Maybe people should write in to the minister and try to get him to reverse the decision.

Pelican Lini Pelican Lini 7:54 pm 19 Aug 09

This decision wouldn’t have anything to do with Jorian’s recent post luncheon interview with the Minister, would it?
Shurely not (hic)

laughtong laughtong 7:53 pm 19 Aug 09

+1 On the surface this sounds like cutting off your nose to spite the face.

How is moving these artists to within a festival that charges to enter the venue, and held at a time when many Canberrans are away going to expose these artists to a wider audience?

deye deye 7:33 pm 19 Aug 09

What a stupid decision. The Fringe Festival is one of the best bits of the National Multicultural Festival.

As for this quote

“The community has expressed a strong desire that the focus of future National Multicultural Festivals should remain squarely on celebrating Canberra’s rich cultural diversity through a showcase of ethnic traditions by our multicultural community groups, diplomatic missions and international students,” said Mr Hargreaves.

What is the Fringe but an expression of cultural diversity ?

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