MELBOURNE FRINGE FESTIVAL unveils a sparkling program for Spring 2009

Hundreds of members of Melbourne's artistic community joined the Deputy Lord Mayor of Melbourne Susan Riley, the Victorian Minister for Education Bronwyn Pike and Melbourne Fringe staff and friends earlier today to celebrate the unveiling of the 2009 Melbourne Fringe Festival program.

Over the past year, thousands of independent artists across Australia have been working closely with the Melbourne Fringe team to create what will be the most exciting, refreshing and innovative celebration of arts in Victoria. On 23 September Melbourne will burst with new creative life as the 2009 Melbourne Fringe Festival opens in venues and galleries across the city.

Presenting works across the artistic spectrum, from visual arts, screen art, film and design, to circus, dance, music, comedy and theatre, Melbourne Fringe truly does have something to entice every art lover. From emerging artists to established names experimenting with something new, you can be guaranteed to see works that inspire, challenge and amaze you. In these tough economic times, an average ticket price of only $18 means the Melbourne Fringe Festival is a very affordable way to engage with Melbourne's rich cultural scene.

The Fringe Festival Hub in North Melbourne will again be the heart of the Fringe, featuring works in the Lithuanian Club, Arts House - North Melbourne Town Hall and Arts House - Meatmarket. More than 56 shows will be presented across the Fringe Hub. According to Creative Producer Emily Sexton, "That's why the best way to experience Fringe is always to line up an evening of four shows and bounce between art forms, ensuring that in amongst it all you're seeing work by people you've never heard from before. That kind of juxtaposition is what Festivals are all about, and it's a highly invigorating way to view art." In addition, this year Melbourne Fringe has established a Circus Hub at the Meat Market which will house 10 fabulous new shows by emerging stars of contemporary circus in Australia.

The Fringe Hub is also home to the much-loved Melbourne Fringe Club - the place to meet for a drink and enjoy a slice of free Fringe entertainment every night.

Creative Producer Emily Sexton offered sneak peaks into some of the many exciting works and events on offer this year:

FRINGE FURNITURE is Melbourne Fringe's iconic exhibition of innovative design which runs from 23rd September - 10th October. "Don't miss Fringe Furniture as we multiply and divide, presenting an alumni retrospective at the Melbourne Museum, and a gorgeous, shiny SILVER themed exhibition at the Meatmarket, North Melbourne."

CIRCUIT is an interactive artwork designed by Matthew Gingold, in conjunction with Nicole Breedon and Ben Milbourne. Emily Sexton said "It's a beautiful work that will be showcased in eight of Victoria's finest independent galleries. Its low-fi sculptural outside belies high-tech interior wizardry, which will capture not only your portrait, but also project it into eight other locations. While you're making yourself intimate with this work I'd encourage you to check out the eight other exhibitions taking place in these vital sites of independent arts activity, including the Melbourne Stencil Festival, new work by Van Rudd, Hamish Carr, Brad Haylock and FELTspace from South Australia."

In a continuing take over of the city's streets, in 2009 Melbourne Fringe will launch the first stage of the contemporary dance initiative REVERB. Martin del Amo and Brooke Stamp will work with emerging dancers Paula Lay, Frankie Snowdon and Ben Hancock to produce four new site-specific short dance works for unique sites, including Prahran train station and Bendigo's main streets.

And if within all this you feel like you've really missed out, well - you've haven't! TAKE OFF YOUR SKIN (TOYS) is a collaboration with WELL and Full Tilt at the Arts Centre. On Friday 2nd October, 100 clones of Japanese performance artist Yasuko Kurono will quietly and beautifully infiltrate the streets of Melbourne, culminating in a mass clone explosion on the lawns of the Arts Centre. You too, can be a clone by visiting melbournefringe.com.au/toys.

The independent arts program for 2009 will include more than 300 shows presented by both Australian and international artists and companies.

Some of the exciting companies premiering new works this year include Ridculusmus, Elbow Room, the Hayloft Project and Snuff Puppets.

Among the extensive program of performance works are: A Bit of Argy Bargy: The Suicide Show addressing male suicide through cabaret, and Candy Bowers: Who's That Chik? - a hip hop tale of a brown girl with big dreams.

Emily Sexton said "High profile comedians like Daniel Kitson (UK), Arj Barker (USA), Tom Ballard, Akmal, Felicity Ward, Kate McLennan, the Bedroom Philosopher and Sam Simmons are leading the charge to use our Festival for exactly the right purpose: the space for experimentation, for play."

Intriguing new dance works include Dance Miniature, featuring nine emerging choreographers, and EGG, featuring new works by Melanie Trojkovic and Hannah Annable, plus the Real Hot Bitches presenting Dance is a Battlefield - a night of 80s excess.

Music program highlights include About The Town at the Fringe Club which will see more than 20 local artists come together to share songs they have written about Melbourne plus festival performances by All India Radio, Fading Fires with Ollie Olsen and Tattoo: Slocombe's Pussy play the Tattoos of Tony Cronin.

In 2009, for the first time in Australia a Live Art category has emerged as a distinct entity within a Festival's program. This year make sure you don't miss out on the much anticipated The Mapping Room, En Route by Melbourne company the betty booke, or Letters to Isaac by Small Change Theatre.

There is also a great program for kids of all ages to keep the youngest Fringe goers entertained throughout the school holidays.

In addition to shows presented in the Fringe Hub in North Melbourne, Melbourne Fringe will be taking over the town with performances in venues such as The Storeroom, The Dancing Dog Theatre, Gasworks, Trades Hall, Northcote Town Hall, The Butterfly Club and St Martins Youth Theatre all presenting work in the 2009 Melbourne Fringe Festival.

So shake off the winter blues, get a spring in your step and smile. Melbourne Fringe is about to light up the city with radiant cultural flair, sparkling high energy and electrifying good fun.

Melbourne Fringe Festival, 23 September - 10 October 2009

Tickets on sale from 1 September 2009 at melbournefringe.com.au

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