Perth’s Fringe World Festival cancels events and closes venues as city enters five-day COVID-19 lockdown

Fringe World cancelled

Food truck Latina Plant Power at Fringe World in Perth. Supplied.

Small businesses and the arts and entertainment industry in Western Australia have suffered a blow, as the latest coronavirus scare sends Perth and surrounding areas into a five-day hard lockdown.

Fringe World, which is Western Australia’s largest annual arts event, has cancelled performances and closed its venues for five days, or until the lockdown lifts.

The festival showcases independent artists and companies, from cabaret to stand-up, across more than one hundred venues between mid-January to February 14, and boasts a range of food and drink options in its festival hubs.

Fringe World said yesterday afternoon that all events and food and entertainment venues would close, following Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan’s announcement that the Perth metro, Peel and South West regions would go into lockdown until 6pm this Friday.

“We hope to welcome audiences back to Fringe World from 7pm on Friday 5 February so that we can all continue to enjoy events until the 2021 Festival ends on 14 February,” the festival said in a statement.

The lockdown began after a security guard who worked at a hotel quarantine site tested positive for COVID-19, and state health authorities identified a range of exposure sites, including a Coles supermarket.

The temporary closure of the festival will halt the flow of thousands of spectators who had purchased tickets.

People with tickets for cancelled shows will automatically receive refunds and the festival is encouraging punters to donate to the Fringe Fund, which will be redistributed among artists affected by the lockdown.

But it is not only performers and the festival organisers who will be disrupted by the cancellations.

Located in the Woodside Pleasure Garden in Northbridge, Latina Plant Power is one of about 10 food venues across the festival and sells a 100% plant-based menu inspired by Latin American cuisine.

Valentina Torres, owner of Latina Plant Power, says she was shocked to hear the city would enter lockdown from yesterday evening.

“It was very shocking yesterday as we were getting ready for a busy night, and all of the sudden lots of messages from workers and friends came through alerting us to watch the news,” Torres tells SmartCompany.

After Torres received an email from Fringe World advising her that the festival would close, she immediately notified her staff who were due to start work in three hours.

Torres says she has since been busy contacting her suppliers to cancel orders of fresh produce, which are normally delivered on a daily basis.

“We’ll experience a great loss of revenue during this lockdown,” she says.

“We serve hundreds if not thousands of people every week during the five-week period that the festival lasts, but we’re staying positive that we’ll get through this quickly and effectively.”

There are also the festival bars, which are managed by the festival itself, and stock local beer from Gage Brewing Company.

Surrounding areas such as Raine Square food court, bars along Lyric and Wolf Lane and Rosemount Hotel are also popular destinations for the thousands of spectators who frequent the festival.

Fringe events are part of a global network of 400 festivals and Western Australia’s Fringe World is the state’s largest annual arts event.

Last year, Fringe World held 700 shows across 156 venues and artists and companies received $9.4 million from ticketed attendance.

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