FINDING the next big thing is driving the world’s second biggest Fringe festival to better connect buyers with artists.
Almost 200 buyers will head to the Adelaide Fringe in South Australia this month as part of the marketplace Honey Pot program.
In its 10th year, the Honey Pot program has grown from 87 delegates in 2015 to more than 180 this year.
Adelaide Fringe Director Heather Croall said the program made the Adelaide Fringe, which includes more than 1300 shows across 300 venues from February 17 to March 19, an important arts marketplace.
She said many leading events in other genres, such as SXSW and Cannes and Sundance film festivals, were better known as important marketplaces than general public festivals.
“The Honey Pot gives that industry layer to the Adelaide Fringe that means we are continually growing to become more important in people’s calendars in the industry because there’s business to be done here,” Croall said.
“There are about 300 fringe festivals in the world but Edinburgh Fringe and Adelaide are really the only two that have this industry facing activity in the background.
“When an artist leaves the Adelaide Fringe, it’s not uncommon for them to have a booking for the next 12 months to tour through Asia and Europe and North America with all of it coming out of Honey Pot.”
The program helps connect festival and venue directors with artists, enables buyers to see about 20 Fringe shows during their stay, hosts industry-focused panel discussions and takes visitors out of the city to nearby wine regions and beaches.
In 2016, 54 Adelaide Fringe shows were picked up through Honey Pot by national and international festivals and producers while another 45 began for possible future presentations.
This year, 59 of the delegates are international, representing the United Kingdom, the United States, the United Arab Emirates, New Zealand, Sweden, Germany, China, India, Malaysia, Singapore, the Czech Republic and South Korea.
One Honey Pot success is South Australian acrobatics troupe Gravity & Other Myths. The group first performed at Adelaide Fringe in 2010 and through Honey Pot have become an in-demand international act, performing in Germany, Africa, the United States, London, Singapore and Edinburgh.
Melbourne-based comedian Tessa Waters is another Australian performer to benefit from Honey Pot.
Comedian Tessa Waters is a regular at the Adelaide Fringe. Picture: Trentino Priori.
Waters said the program was one of the main reasons she performed at the Adelaide Fringe each year.
“I have been bringing my work to Adelaide Fringe since 2010 and each year as a direct result of being involved in the Honey Pot Program I have sold my work to festivals and venues around Australia, in the UK and Europe,” she said.
Honey Pot will coincide with the ShowBroker: National Touring Arts Market, which will bring together more than 200 performing arts delegates from around Australia at the Adelaide Festival Centre from February 27 to March 1.
Croall said there was no reason the Honey Pot program couldn’t triple in size in the coming years.
“Our reputation is huge around the world in the circle of artists but where we can really grow is by getting more and more of the decision makers from industry to see Adelaide Fringe as a must attend festival,” she said.
“They are not only spreading the word to their friends and family but they also spread the word to all these programmers from cities that haven’t been here before and we’re really hoping to keep it growing.”
Adelaide Fringe Director Heather Croall. Picture: Trentino Priori.
The 56-year-old Adelaide Fringe has set the goal of almost doubling ticket sales to more than a million by 2022 to ensure it can maintain its position as the world’s second largest Fringe.
Croall said the only way to achieve this would be by attracting top quality artists and boosting the number of international and interstate tourists to the event.
She said the Honey Pot program played a vital role in both.
“We can’t rest on our laurels and think that because we’ve always been the second biggest in the world that we always will be – our model has been copied by so many cities and we can’t think they will never overtake us,” Croall said.
“We have to make Adelaide Fringe as attractive as possible and make sure the offering to artists is so irresistible that they choose Adelaide every year on their safari of fringe tours.
“It’s not a trivial thing that we have brilliant weather as well – the big starry skies and balmy evenings under the trees are not to be underestimated.”