Marcus Canning

Best known as the founder and CEO of the Fringe World Festival, Marcus Canning has been behind other successful arts and entertainment initiatives over the last 25 years.

In 2002 Marcus Canning was appointed the Director and CEO of Artrage a not for profit arts organisation and charity that’s been at the forefront of evolving arts and culture in WA since 1983. In this role he developed and launched the Fringe World Festival, Rooftop Movies and The Bakery live music venue.

Fringe World Festival is an arts festival that runs for fours week in January and February every year. It is the largest annual event in WA and is the third largest Fringe celebration in the world in terms of ticket sales.

Marcus’ key achievements include:

  • Being a key force behind the Jack Sue Artists Collective. Marcus initiated one of Perth’s earliest and most successful Artist Run Initiatives in the old Jack Sue Diving Academy – a disused warehouse in Murray Street that became a hotbed of creativity and artistic energy through the 1990s.
  • Winner of the City of Perth Award at the 40 Under 40 awards in 2007 for his work at Artrage.
  • Contributing to a range of state and federal arts funding boards including the New Media Arts Board of the Australia Council and serving as Chair of the federal Festivals Australia Committee.
  • Developing a successful concept and pitch to redevelop the long empty heritage Rechabite Hall on William Street into a new multi-arts and entertainment complex in 2016. This involved establishing a new company with Adrian Fini to drive the project. The design was approved near the end of 2016 and works are commencing in 2017 for an early 2018 opening.
  • In his own right as an artist Marcus has created two of Perth’s most popular and critically recognised monumental public sculptures – Fremantle’s ‘Rainbow’ sea container sculpture entry statement and Ascalon at St. George’s Cathedral in collaboration with Christian De Vietri.

When he was a young fine arts graduate from The University of Western Australia, Marcus Canning watched many of his peers leave Perth.

“You had to get out of Perth¨ that’s what most people thought¨” Mr Canning recalls, “I decided my interest was getting new places up and making things happen right here.”

Marcus has been instrumental in bringing art and culture to the Perth masses.

Fringe World in particular targets a wide range of audiences with inexpensive tickets to encourage everyone to participate.

Fringe World Fesitval encourages mass participation in the arts – surveys showed 80 per cent of people who attended thought Fringe World which attracted 990,000 people to free and ticketed events in 2016 was one of the best things about Perth.

“It’s bringing a whole new audience who are participating in events¨” Hon Colin Barnett MLA said, “It’s good fun, it’s lively, it’s vital and it’s quick. It’s just been terrific”

Artrage has brought both economic and social benefits to the community though its initiatives.

Fringe World stimulates the economy though bringing people into Fringe areas and shifting the way Western Australians engage with the arts though showcasing a diverse range of art and culture from local, national and international platforms.

Fringe World provides artists with an opportunity to perform and access to audiences to create engagement within the community.

Furthermore, the success of Fringe World in 2016 saw:

  • 713 events over 159 venues
  • 350,000 tickets sold
  • $9.3 million in box office sales
  • $70 million gross visitor expenditure

In 2002 Artrage was struggling with turnover of less than $400¨000. However, largely due to Marcus’ influence the 2016 Fringe funded to the tune of $1.24 million from the State achieved turnover of $20 million, earned $8.3 million for artists and had a flow on economic impact of $98 million.

For every $1 dollar of government investment in Fringe World, the flow on economic impact was $74.50, nearly double that of the previous year.

Beyond the economic rationalist value, the Fringe’s biggest impact was its boost to Perth’s cultural life, tourism appeal and social cohesion.

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