The inaugural 2020 Sharjah Fringe, the first-ever fringe festival in the UAE, will be a brand-new, global platform of the best family and children’s theatre. It will run from 16 January to 1 February 2020.

The organisers have issued a worldwide call for producers of work that will “inspire, entertain, thrill and amaze” young audiences and their families to apply to be part of this groundbreaking event.

“We’re looking for theatre, dance, music, magic, puppets, circus acts and everything in between,” says Nobesuthu Rayi, Executive Producer of the Sharjah Fringe. “The programme has space for about 60 shows that will be staged across Sharjah in our three fringe hubs. Performances can be in Arabic, English, or be non-verbal, and will be scheduled in venues that seat anywhere from 100 to 1000 audience members.”

Grants available

The Fringe is modelled on similar successful events held across the world, where artists are given spaces to perform in exchange for a nominal registration and venue hire fee, and earn the bulk of their box office takings. As an added incentive, though, producers are making travel and accommodation grants available to productions who want to minimise the costs of taking part.

“It’s an untested formula in this part of the world and we want artists and audiences to have as positive experience as possible,” Rayi said, adding that the grants of between US $500 and $2700 could be applied for.

Dual value

The Fringe is being co-produced by South Africa’s National Arts Festival and UAE-based Dolphin Creative, on behalf of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq).

“Shurooq have recognised the dual value of fringe festivals – firstly to transform an arts landscape by offering opportunities for artists and audiences to find each other, and secondly to give residents and tourists new ways to explore a city and its culture,” Tony Lankester, CEO of the Sharjah Fringe, says. “We’ve seen the massive economic and transformative impact some of the biggest fringes have – in Edinburgh, Adelaide and Edmonton, for example. It will take a while for the Sharjah Fringe to reach the scale of those events, but the energy and philosophy of independent, accessible and relaxed theatre is the same.”

  • Artists have until 30 September 17 October 2019 to submit their proposals for inclusion in the programme. A briefing document and application form can be found at www.sharjahfringe.com.