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New Zealand Fringe Festival Closes With A Bang!

On Saturday 9 March 2024, the New Zealand Fringe Festival—the largest multi-disciplinary arts festival in Aotearoa—came to a close with a bang. NZ Fringe acts as a platform for both emerging and established artists to offer their events to the Pōneke public and develop capabilities in the performing arts. This year’s festival ran for three weeks—spanning Theatre, Dance, Digital, Comedy, Circus, Cabaret and more—featuring both local, national, and international artists.

The 2024 festival brought in a huge array of talent as well as 21,150 tickets sold, and multiple free events. A total of 168 Productions held a massive 590 performances and 89 World Premieres over the festival’s three-week season. With over 900 artists from more than 22 countries and work spanning 25 genres of art, there was a hugely diverse selection of events that lit up the city with talent, proving Wellington’s reputation as the Creative Capital of Aotearoa. At this point, more than $323,000 will be paid out to artists and venues in the coming weeks, representing a major injection to local creative and hospitality industries. Final reconciliations will take place over the coming weeks across all participating venues and the NZ Fringe box office.

On top of the vast programme, 48 performance spaces took part in bringing NZ Fringe to Pōneke audiences and enabled artists to present their work all across the city. This year, NZ Fringe was supported by Public Trust Hall to coordinate an event, Māreikura Lumina, that utilised the space to emphasise the new renovation and transform it with ethereal music, illustration and light. Additionally, NZ Fringe events were hosted at a wide variety of spaces including historical Wellington theatres, bars, parks, and even a yoga studio!

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Director of New Zealand Fringe Festival, Vanessa Stacey says: “Our 34th year at New Zealand Fringe saw Pōneke host another exceptional festival full of artistic innovation, expression and exploration. A huge, unwavering thank you to our many wonderful sponsors, venues and technical teams. They all help us to support and manaaki our extraordinary artists, providing them a safe space to explore, to take risks and to be brilliant! And of course our amazing audiences... Fringe is not only alive, it’s thriving. Bring on 2025!”

After careful deliberation by an external panel of judges, award winners were announced on the night of Sunday 10 March at the annual awards ceremony: The Wellington International Airport New Zealand Fringe Awards. Twenty artists were celebrated for their achievements in a myriad of categories. Thanks to the generous support of sponsors and funders, NZ Fringe was able to offer these artists a cash prize and recognition for their hard work, ending the festival on a high.

The twenty awards in the festival span from ‘Best in Fringe’, sponsored by Her Worship Tory Whanau, to the turbulently-wonderful ‘Spectacular Organised Chaos’ sponsored by BATS Theatre, and to ‘Momentous Movement’, sponsored by NZME.

Highlights included the ‘Best in Fringe’ award which this year went to Show do Café, presented by Deputy Mayor Laurie Foon.

Deputy Mayor Laurie Foon says: “Wow! Another record-breaking year for NZ Fringe, Incredible! Congratulations! Vanessa and her amazing team are the best representatives of the Birthplace of Brilliance. May the dreams and aspirations of the successful artists fly high with the help of this Best in Fest award. On behalf of Mayor Whanau and the Wellington City Council, we thank you NZ Fringe Festival and we are absolutely positively behind you.”

Show do Café was a true hit at the awards ceremony—Stela Dara (Show do Café) also took home the ‘Most Promising Emerging Artist’ award, and LJ Crichton (Show do Café) won ‘Most Promising Pasifika Artist’.

Sponsored by Fringe Festivals across the motu and further afield, ‘Tour Ready’ awards give artists the invaluable opportunity to tour their work to national and international Fringe circuits. Delightfool, The Butterfly Who Flew Into the Rave, Twilight — The Loca Edition, Sweeties and Manage Your Expectations all took home Tour Ready awards this year, with the opportunity to present work as far abroad as the U.S.A.

NZ Fringe’s recent announcement of the National Association of Fringe Festivals Touring Fund, supported by the Ministry of Culture and Heritage, adds to this crucial artist development kaupapa by supporting Fringe artists that are ready to tour to Fringe Festivals across Aotearoa in 2024 and 2025. Applications are open now until mid-April, and further information on this fund can be found on the NZ Fringe website.

The full list of awards and their 2024 recipients are listed below.

Best in Fringe, sponsored by Her Worship Tory Whanau: Show do Café

Most Innovative Work, sponsored by Wellington International Airport: You and A.I.

Grand Design Award, sponsored by Inject Design: CRUNCH

Outstanding Solo Performance, sponsored by The New Zealand Festival of Solo Performance: Eliza Sanders (Manage Your Expectations)

Momentous Movement, Sponsored by NZME: The Butterfly Who Flew Into The Rave

Most Promising Emerging Company, sponsored by Te Auaha: L!CK Dance Theatre (Lick Off My Tears, Death is Also Dying)

Most Promising Emerging Artist, sponsored by Victoria University of Wellington: Stela Dara (Show do Café)

Most Promising Pasifika Artist, sponsored by CNZ Pacific Arts: LJ Crichton (Show do Café)

Memorable Marketing, sponsored by Phantom Billstickers: ONE BEDROOM AVAILABLE IN SUPER SUNNY FLAT…

Spectacular Organised Chaos, sponsored by BATS Theatre: Sweeties

Momentous Music, sponsored by Creative Capital Arts Trust: Māreikura Lumina

Spirit of the Fringe, sponsored by NZ Fringe: Emma Maguire & SPLITelevision (Troy J. Malcolm & Ryan Bedford-Evens)

Auckland Tour Ready Award, sponsored by Auckland Fringe Festival: Delightfool

Dunedin Tour Ready Award, sponsored by Dunedin Fringe Festival: Twilight — The Loca Edition

Melbourne Tour Ready Award, sponsored by Melbourne Fringe: The Butterfly Who Flew Into the Rave

Sydney Tour Ready Award, sponsored by Sydney Fringe: The Butterfly Who Flew Into the Rave

Adelaide Tour Ready Award, sponsored by Adelaide Fringe: Sweeties

San Diego Tour Ready Award, sponsored by San Diego Fringe: Manage Your Expectations

The Parkin Development Award, sponsored by Chris and Kathy Parkin: Antarctic Endeavours

People’s Choice Picnic Table Design, sponsored by Resene: Heather Wright

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