ACCORDING to Kerri Glasscock, Sydney Fringe Festival has always been embraced by the LGBTI community.

And it’s not hard to see why.

[showads ad=MREC]“I think [it] is seen as a safe place,” the festival director said.

“[It] draws a number of artists who identify as part of the LGBTI community and often this translates into work with themes that directly speak to this community.

“[We also] offer them an inclusive platform to discuss issues that might not get an airing in the mainstream.”

Glasscock added that the month-long festival, which begins on September 1, encompasses work from over 500 performers in a diversity of content, genre and form, offering a nurturing environment for artists and audiences alike.

This year, Sydney’s iconic gay bar Midnight Shift has come on board as a venue while gender-bending performance artist Matt Format is the hero image of the festival campaign.

In addition, according to Glasscock more than 20 per cent of the artists in the 2015 line-up identify as part of the LGBTI community.

“We are thrilled that LGBTI content is now threaded through the fabric of the independent sector, allowing artists to be as subtle or overtly political as they chose,” she said.

Glasscock also believes there is often a pre-conceived idea that “fringe” or “independent” artists are of less quality.

“This is something I champion passionately to dispel,” she said.

“The independent sector is producing some of the most interesting and best work the city has to offer and often features artists that perform on the main stages or in the mainstream media.

“The wonderful thing about the fringe arts though is that it offers opportunities for those artists to try out new ideas, develop new work and experiment outside of the constraints often encumbering the main stage world.”

As we march towards equal rights continues to surge in Australia, Glasscock also believes having cultural events that are inclusive of both the LGBTI and wider communities is crucial.

“Art of any form has the ability to transcend barrier, stereotype or prejudice,” she said.

“It has the ability to expand our thinking, challenge society norms and stimulate conversation. The shared experience of participating as an audience, observer or artist in the art making process connects strangers and is by nature a safe and inclusive environment.

“For that very reason, it is absolutely vital that people of all ages and from all walks of life are able to access cultural activity. A little bit of art goes a long way, and any activity that encourages humans to share experiences, tell stories and create is a valuable asset to our community.”

Sydney Fringe Festival is on September 1-30. For details and bookings, visit sydneyfringe.com.

Star Observer is a media partner of Sydney Fringe.

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