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Creatives Encouraged To “Get Weird” As Registrations Open For Second Whangārei Fringe Festival

Registrations are now open for the second Whangārei Fringe Festival, and Northland’s artists, performers and creatives are being encouraged to bring their weird and wonderful events to the party.

The festival, which will run from October 1 to October 17, provides a platform for Te Taitokerau’s arts community to present topical, original events, and for local audiences to discover new work from Northland and around the country.

This year’s theme is “Let’s get weird”. It reflects that like Fringe festivals around the world, Whangārei Fringe Festival is open to quirky and experimental works from all disciplines: theatre, circus, art, comedy, digital technology, music, poetry, cabaret, fashion, drag and more.

The 2021 festival builds on the runaway success of the inaugural 2020 festival, which was held in Whangārei last October. Of the 91 events, approximately two-thirds of them were by Te Taitokerau creatives. Venues included the pop-up Fringe After Dark comedy club, art galleries, disused shops, a waterfront warehouse, and arts and community events space ONEONESIX.

Whangārei Fringe co-founder and visual artist Hayley Clark says last year’s festival created stronger connections between local creatives and with venues, and offered a diverse range of events for audiences to discover.

“We’re a team of artists creating an event to support other artists, so we’re all about keeping costs low too. The Fringe takes a small registration fee and will take no cut of the ticket sales. Last year, the most expensive ticket was $30,” she says.

“One audience member said events were cheap enough that she could take risks and see things she normally wouldn't. That’s what we want to encourage.”

Plans for 2021 include a Fringe party bus, which will feature on-board entertainment as it travels between venues and Whangārei’s suburbs during busier nights of the festival. The Fringe team has also begun talking to CBD restaurants and cafes about staying open later so people have more dining options before and after events.

There will be four Fringe-run venues, says festival co-founder Georgia-May Russ, and people are also encouraged to put on events anywhere else that takes their fancy.

“Let your imaginations go. A cafe, a bar, your lounge, in a park, on a riverbank or in an empty CBD space. Surprise us!” says Russ.

“We loved seeing so much new work last year, especially new local work, and we really want to foster that again this year. Fringe is about trying new things and developing ideas, which people might then take on tour and to other festivals.”

Registrations for the open-access festival close on Sunday 1 August, or earlier if the 100-registration limit is reached. Events can be small or large in scale, and by professional or emerging creatives.

Laurel Devenie, Fringe co-founder and theatre-maker, says the broader plan is to build the profile of artists within our community, and provide a pathway for artists to take their work further afield.

“Professional and community arts are a vital part of Whangārei’s wellbeing. Fringe illustrates how artists from Whangārei and Northland can tangibly enhance the culture of our city, and reflect our community and the times that we live in,” she says.

“Fringe will liven up the city even more this year, so make sure you’re part of it!”

Visit for details. A community information evening will be held on Tuesday 6 July, at ONEONESIX (116 Bank St), where people can find out about staging an event, talk to festival staff, and meet others in the Fringe community.

Whangārei Fringe Festival received core funding this year from Creative New Zealand, which was also a key sponsor for the 2020 festival.

Key Whangārei Fringe 2021 dates:

June 16: Registrations open
July 6: Community information evening

August 1: Registrations close

September 10: Programme launch and box office opens

October 1: Festival starts, opening party

October 3: Hatea Me Hearties buskers festival

October 17: Festival ends, award ceremony

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