New Adelaide Fringe director Heather Croall has a vision that would boost the visibility of smaller festival venues and lead to an explosion of street art in the city.
The Street Art Explosion project will match bricks-and-mortar venues “with great walls” with South Australian artists to create dozens of street-art murals in the lead-up to the 2016 Fringe.
“One thing I hear a lot from people is that they find it hard to find all the Fringe venues and navigate around the Fringe, so we will be putting in place initiatives that help venues become destinations in their own right, so you know exactly where they are and they are standing out at night,” Croall says.
“Street Art Explosion is part of that … we’re hoping to help the bricks-and-mortar venues much more.”
It is envisioned that most of the murals will remain after the festival, with more added each year – “so Adelaide really becomes one of the street-art capitals of the world”.
Venues will also be encouraged to embrace a theme of “luminosity” in 2016, with the Fringe planning to distribute packs to help them light up their facades during Mad March.
“Fringe wants to help the wow factor spread across the city,” says Croall, a former international documentary festival director who was appointed earlier this year to replace outgoing Fringe director and CEO Greg Clarke.
“It is one of a handful of festivals in the world that totally transforms a whole city and that’s such a rare jewel that we should be trying to get more venues to jump on board and help them to shine and stand out.”
But that doesn’t mean there is any intention to move away from larger Fringe hubs, such as the Garden of Unearthly Delights in Rymill Park and the contentious Royal Croquet Club in Victoria Square.
The latter has attracted complaints from both the council and some city businesses that see it as a competitor, but Croall said for Adelaide Fringe to remain one of the biggest and most successful art festivals in the world, it needed thriving big hubs and smaller venues.
She believes one of the keys to allaying the concerns of other businesses is to focus on attracting more tourists to the Fringe, which would offer spin-off benefits for everyone.
“There’s really not that many cities where you can say the whole place is transformed for the month.
“All that needs to happen is a little bit of pointing in the right direction and match-making the right shows to the right venues, and we could dramatically increase the number of tourists coming to Adelaide … so we don’t have to have bricks-and-mortar venues feeling it’s impacting on them in a bad way.”
Croall also announced today that the 2016 Fringe will see the introduction of a new program genre called “Digital Playground”, which will encompass works that are interactive, multi-platform, use new technologies, or are in some other way experimental or immersive.
These might range from projects using Oculus Rift or Google Glass-type virtual-reality technology to create unique experiences or tell stories, to circus shows with a laser component, and interactive theatre shows and games.
Depending on the applications received from artists, works might be displayed in galleries, clustered together in small hubs, or experienced via outdoor screens.
“We want people to know that Adelaide Fringe is open to that new innovative work, as well as the usual brilliant genres that are tried and true,” Croall says.
“It’s something that I see as a genre that is only going to grow and grow. We will be the first arts festival to introduce a big digital strand like that.”
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