Launch--Fringe Festival (1983-1998)
In the week before Christmas in 1983, after 8 years of disuse, we finally got hold of the key to the depot, which has become the location of Fringe Club ever since then. By that time we had just one month to get it ready as a temporary festival club to host the new Fringe Festival, and another month to operate in it. Beyond which, we had no plan.
Our first mission was to name it in Chinese. The name “Fringe Festival” was inspired by Edinburgh Festival Fringe. However, at the time, “Fringe” had not yet existed in the Chinese vocabulary to mean what it does now. We therefore create a new Chinese term to capture its essence. This comes:
· 藝 ngai = Arts
· 穗 seoi = the bristle like growth from the kernel of a cereal plant
· 節 zit = festival
These three self-initiated characters embody the spirit that Edinburg Festival Fringe upholds and encourages, where art can be free to grow wildly as cereal plant.
Nowadays 藝穗節 (ngai seoi zit) is commonly used to describe a fringe-festival-type of event.
We had our eyes on the old Dairy Farm building because it's in a good location (right on the fringe of Central), and has sufficient ceiling height for conversion into art spaces. The only catch was, the building was in an advanced state of decay.
At the time, there were only me and my young secretary Emma. So I went on the radio to call for volunteer helpers, romanticising about the whole thing. Like miracle workers, they turned up in droves, eager to take part in our adventure. Some of the helpers stayed on, and one until this day, known to us all as Cat.
The Fringe Festival went from 1983 to 1997. As an open platform for the arts, it has come to stand for Freedom of Expression.