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Tuxedo Cat lands on its feet just in time for Fringe 2017

Arts & Culture

Tuxedo Cat has secured a last-minute venue for its tenth anniversary Fringe shows after the Adelaide performing arts institution was blindsided by a Feast Festival “takeover” of its city address late last year.

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Tuxedo Cat has been hosting local, national and international acts at various city addresses over the past decade, and acted as a formative institution for Adelaide performing artists.

In September, InDaily revealed claims Tuxedo Cat had been forced out of East End venue Raj House, weeks out from a deadline to secure performers for the 2017 Fringe Festival, because the Feast Festival had reneged on an informal agreement to collaborate there.

(The LGBTIQ festival’s organisers said “no in-principle agreement was formalised” at the time.)

But the organisers of Tuxedo Cat have secured a Fringe venue at the very last moment, and the first of its shows will open tomorrow.

The venue is the heritage-listed former Telecom Trust building on Franklin Street, opposite Victoria Square – which will be conserved during a $300 million redevelopment of the GPO precinct due to begin this year.

Tuxedo Cat creative director Cass Tombs told InDaily she had secured an agreement to use the Charter Hall-owned building the day that Fringe catalogues were to be printed.

She said she had met with a representative of the property group two days previous, who had expressed in-principle support for the idea. “I had plan A, plan B, plan C and plan D – but always I was hoping to get this building,” said Tombs.

“It was a lot of sleepless nights wondering if we’re going to have a venue.

“The day it went to print, we secured the building.”

She said Tuxedo Cat had lost acts to other venues during the months of uncertainty as it scrambled to find an address for this year’s Fringe.

She said this year’s Tuxedo Cat program was “very strong” despite having lost acts from “the upper end of the grassroots spectrum”. She added that she was “eternally grateful” to Charter Hall for agreeing to host it.

The building will host 23 acts during the festival, after which Tuxedo Cat will once again be searching for a permanent home.

Tombs said she had submitted an expressions of interest proposal to the State Government for a permanent venue on the old Royal Adelaide Hospital site.

She said a permanent Tuxedo Cat address there would be used to “run a full-time, all-year-round arts space to present local, national and international [acts]”, and that it would also be open to nascent local theatre companies as a rehearsal space.

She added that many of the artists in this year’s Fringe lineup had been through Tuxedo Cat in their formative years.

“We believe that we provide a unique and required part of the arts community here,” she said.

“We really are the incubator for the industry – we just need a [permanent venue to continue that work].”

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