History of Buffer Fringe Festival

Buffer Fringe aims to enable people to engage with one another regardless of the dominant historical narratives, ideologies or identities which are very much politicized and often divisive for the people of Cyprus.

The performing arts have proven to be one of the best tools to trigger discussions about personal or collective traumas that the people of Cyprus have experienced in the past and to promote understanding, respect and finally trust in one another.

Inception – 2014

The Buffer Fringe, the only Fringe Festival in Cyprus, started its journey in 2014 with the aim of breaking physical and mental barriers through the transformative power of arts from the Home for Cooperation. The Festival was developed with the idea of providing a platform to question sensitive topics, expressing ideas in new and creative ways. Buffer Fringe 2014 took place in the buffer zone in Nicosia, where the Home for Cooperation is located. 

A Festival in Progress – 2015

In its second year (2015), the Festival grew and took the form of a walking tour not only in the buffer zone but also around the old city of Nicosia. The Buffer Fringe Festival, which was born out of a unique local situation, would soon be established as a highly respected international festival.

Stepping beyond – 2016

2016 was the year that Buffer Fringe became an international festival. The festival hosted both local and international performances, facilitating exchange between artists and audiences alike. The Festival expanded beyond the buffer zone with all activities taking place in venues which have historical or social significance across the divide. 

Opening Up – 2017

In the 2017 edition, the Festival invited applications through an international open call in addition to the local one for the first time. The festival’s international reputation grew higher under the leadership of Artistic Director Charalambia Theophanous. The Festival hosted durational outdoor performances for the first time at historical landmarks of Nicosia e.g. Selimiye Square and Phanoremeni Square. This was also the first edition when Buffer Fringe emphasized works in progress by offering an award for a local performance in development, presented at the festival. 

Buffer Fringe 2017-2018 received international recognition from the European Festivals Association with the “Remarkable Festival” label and run as a laureate for the EFFE (Europe for Festivals, Festivals for Europe) award. Locally, it was supported by the Stelios Award from the Stelios Foundation, with the concept “Buffer Fringe on Tour”.

New Formats – 2018

The 2018 edition was organized under the theme “Breaking Point” and was marked by a sharp increase in international participation and interest with over 300 applications as well as establishing new partnerships to host performances in the coastal cities of Limassol, Kyrenia and Paphos. In 2018, the festival’s Artistic Director was Achim Weiland, whose vision for the collaboration of artists and decentralization, has marked the Festival and its legacy. 

Back to its Roots – 2019

In 2019, the Festival returned to the Buffer Zone, with a proposition by Artistic Director Ellada Evangelou, asking artists to ‘Define a/the Buffer Zone’. This invitation created the space (literally and metaphorically) for artists, scholars, architects and students from Cyprus and the world, to propose their own inclusive/interactive/immersive ways to speak about buffer zones.

The festival received the EFFE label once again for the 2019 and 2020 editions.

Buffer Fringe 2020-21 – A Hybrid Festival

Buffer Fringe 2020 was one of the few artistic platforms in Cyprus and globally to have adapted and materialised a festival amid the Covid-19 pandemic, supporting artists in Cyprus and internationally through the creation of the Buffer Fringe Blog. The concept of the Buffer Fringe 2020 and 2021 turned to a phenomenon as old as humans themselves: Displacement. The Open Call for Artists asked a series of crucial questions, in an effort to understand the theme: Why is this human activity so contested? What is the relationship between migration, mobility, and displacement? How do different people experience the displacement of themselves, their ideas and their practices?

Buffer Fringe 2022 – Immersing in Pockets

Buffer Fringe Performing Arts Festival 2022 took place on October 7-8-9, 2022. The theme of the year aimed to initiate a discussion on who is visible/invisible and why. Pockets (beyond) became a space to start thinking about difference and identity, past and present, inside and outside, inclusion and exclusion. It transfered agency back to the marginal, the forgotten, the invisible. In Buffer Fringe 2022, beyond became pocket of curiosity and imagination and asked: Will there be a place for me to live and to create? Can a pocket become an alternative space to live and to create? What is beyond our blind spots? How can artists puncture dominant notions of culture, race, sexuality and environmental and human crises? How could everyday life and art intersect? What power do we have to ask these questions?

Looking into the Future

As proud as we are with the international participation and the recognition of our Festival, we would like to see the impact of the festival within Cyprus, increased and strengthened. Therefore, in the coming years, Buffer Fringe will focus on increasing the participation of local artists as well as in providing new opportunities for development of new work and platforms for artistic collaborations from across the divide, initiating thus an international and intercultural dialogue with artists and creatives.

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