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About History

Adelaide Fringe began in 1960 as an alternative to the Adelaide Festival of the Arts which offered only limited opportunity for local artists.

By 1964 there were 52 art exhibitions, collections and performances that made up the fringe.

The first souvenir Fringe program was produced in 1974, this legitimized the Fringe program 14 years and 8 festivals after the first Fringe activities were generated.

There was a name change from Fringe to Focus in 1975 with the idea of bringing focus onto development of our own culture.

By 1982 the event was expanding, the programme listed details of performances by 86 performing arts groups, in more than 50 venues; 56 visual arts exhibitions and in addition there were another 16 performing groups who presented a diversity of activities in schools and public places in the larger metropolitan area.

By 1988 The Fringe Board had been monitoring overseas fringe festivals and in discussion with Actors Equity, they decided to pursue a policy of allowing overseas participation in the Fringe.

The UK experience had shown that international participation in festival fringes had enormous benefits for local performers and audience alike, so this lead to the establishment of a special entry visa for overseas performers wishing to take part in the Fringe.

The period 1992-93 was one of tremendous change for focus: Adelaide Festival Fringe.

The organisation moved to adopt a new name – Adelaide Fringe; a new rationale – to broaden the role of the organization; and produced the most successful Fringe Festival in its 32 year history.

It was clear by 1996 Adelaide Fringe was an event that was taking off; growing in stature as a significant international and Australian cultural event.

The 2000 Fringe was dedicated to Fringe Patron Don Dunstan, former Premier, his alternative vision of social justice and cultural diversity for South Australia lives on in this festival.

Adelaide Fringe and Adelaide Festival ran side by side, every second year, for over four decades until 2007, the year that Adelaide Fringe became an annual event.

Adelaide Fringe has built on its strong foundations to the point where it is now the largest arts festival in Australia, boasting an enormous program and reaching a broad demographic. Its impact on the social and economic fabric of South Australia is absolutely and undeniably immense and it continues to grow, year after year.

2011 saw a staggering 1.45 million in attendances and a ticket sales increase of 11% on 2010, amounting to a massive 334,000 tickets sold equating to over $8 million.

Adelaide Fringe 2012 delivered an economic benefit to South Australia with an estimated expenditure within the State of $48.2 million, an increase of 18% on 2011. An estimated 1.59 million people attended Fringe events, with 367,000 tickets sold to Fringe ticketed shows, an increase of 11% on 2011.

In 2013, Adelaide Fringe delivered a massive economic expenditure within the State of South Australia of $64.6 million which is a 34% increase on 2012’s figure. [Read more about the Economic Impact of Adelaide Fringe 2013]

On Monday 23 July 2012 the South Australian Government announced additional funding to extend Adelaide Fringe 2013 to four weeks instead of three, starting one week earlier than previous years (15 February – 17 March). [Read more about the extension here]

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