Get in touch with Hong Kong’s cultural scene at the Fringe Club, a not for profit arts organization that assists emerging artists of all sorts to get a start in life. It promotes Hong Kong’s culture overseas through cultural exchange programmes and sustains and energizes the city’s cultural heritage by hosting theater, dance and music performances and visual arts exhibitions. The late 19th century stucco building with its red and white façade – called blood and bandages – is provided rent free to artists for performances and exhibitions. Originally built for a dairy farm it saw use as a warehouse, a shop selling dairy products, a cold storage facility and an office until it was abandoned in 1970s. The Fringe Club acquired it in 1984. After renovations to make it suitable for the purpose at hand it was thrown open to the artistes of the city. The club shares part of the building with the Foreign Correspondents Club.
After an extensive renovation in 2010 the Fringe Club now houses two theaters, three exhibition areas, a rehearsal room, a restaurant, a roof garden and offices. It’s a boon to emerging local artistes who are offered free venues, publicity, support and even overseas tours. The club premises are also the venue for the annual Fringe Festival, a smorgasbord of cultural activity with its own productions and performers from overseas. Since its opening in 1984 the club has hosted more than its fair share of festivals, stage performances, exhibitions, live band shows, community outreach events, artist residencies and productions. It has organized tours for its artists’ groups to 31 cities, launched the careers of many Hong Kong artistes, exchanged cultural MOUs with several cities overseas and hosted more than 500 performers and arts groups from around the world. The Hong Kong Arts Development Council and many other sponsors have been generous supporters of the club’s programmes.
The club’s live music performances every Friday and Saturday from 10.30 pm onwards showcase jazz, alternative rock, post punk, indie pop, psychedelic rock, classic rock, canto pop, funk, blues and other musical genres. Its open air roof top bar is a popular watering spot and its thatched roof, green grass like Astro Turf and palm trees provide a very different vibe from that of the other over crowded bars in the city. The fact that it is located atop one of the last remaining old stone buildings also adds some interest. Popular with Hong Kong residents and visitors alike it is an ideal place for a casual evening with friends. Its week end brunches, vegetarian lunches, tapas during the week and happy hours from 3 to 9 pm from Monday to Thursday are well patronized.
The Fringe Club has become an intangible heritage asset of Hong Kong and has successfully demonstrated how to reuse old buildings.
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