Story of Buffer Fringe
The festival was developed by the Home for Cooperation team in 2014, with the idea of providing a platform to question sensitive topics and expressing ideas in new and creative ways. This will 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 peoples of Cyprus. The performing arts festival has proven to be the best tool to trigger discussions about personal or collectivistic traumas that the people of Cyprus have experienced in the past and to promote understanding, respect and finally trust in one another. Buffer Fringe Festival, which was born out of a unique local situation, has established itself as a highly respected international festival.
A Festival in Development
Buffer Fringe 2014 took place in the buffer zone in Nicosia, where the Home for Cooperation is located. 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, Nicosia. In 2016, Buffer Fringe became an international festival and expanded beyond the buffer zone with all activities taking place in different venues that had historical or social significance across the divide. 2017 edition was the first time the festival invited applications through an international open call in addition to the local one. The festival’s international reputation grew higher under the leadership of artistic director Charalambia Theophanous, and the festival hosted durational outdoor performances for the first time at historical landmarks of Nicosia e.g. Selimiye Square and Phanoremeni Square. The 2018 edition is marked with 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. In 2019, the Festival returned to the Buffer Zone, with a proposition by Artistic Director Ellada Evangelou, to ask artists to ‘Define the Buffer Zone’. This invitation created the space (physical and metaphorical) for artists, scholars, architects and students from Cyprus and the world, to propose their own inclusive/interactive/immersive ways to speak about buffer zones.
Buffer Fringe 2020-21
On the foot of the Buffer Fringe Performing Arts Festival 2019, the Home for Cooperation, in collaboration with a group of individuals in the creative sector, launched a two-year program, learning from the past of the festival and setting up new forms and structures. Under the Artistic Direction of Ellada Evangelou, with Maria Varnakkidou (Theatre Director) and Nihal Soganci (Social Anthropologist) as co-creative Directors, the festival moves even further towards collaboration and multi-disciplinary curation.
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. As Artistic Director Ellada Evangelou mentions, “we return in 2021 to complete the cycle that started last year, a particularly hard year, but that has taught us a lot about our possibilities and potentials as a community of artists. We have new partnerships that we want to nurture, and make new connections, empowering artists to dare to present new narratives, to tell new stories.”
The concept of the Buffer Fringe 2020 and 2021 turns 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. 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?, etc.
Buffer Fringe 2017-2018 also 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 and locally, it was supported by the Stelios Award from the Stelios Foundation. The festival received the EFFE label once again for the 2019 and 2020 editions. The Festival continues to receive the support of foreign representations in Cyprus, including but not limited to the Embassy of Sweden, Ireland, Poland and the Netherlands; and cultural institutions including the Goethe Institute and ASEF Cultural Foundation.
From Global to Local
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.
Highlights of Previous editions: