The 2014 Melbourne Fringe Festival Awards were presented on Saturday night at the closing party of this year's festival held at the Fringe Club at the North Melbourne Town Hall. Two types of awards were presented: Melbourne Fringe Category Awards in the categories of performance, comedy, music, live art, dance, circus, cabaret, visual arts and kids and the Melbourne Fringe Sponsored Awards in categories such as Best Emerging Writer, Best Emerging Producer, Best Emerging Indigenous Artist and Best Experimental performance.

With its open-access application process and Independent Arts Program (which helps artists learn how to develop and present their work) the Fringe is an important platform for the broader arts community.

“It gives the artists confidence to present their work,” says director Jayne Lovelock. “It's often the first time ever the work has been shown.”

A case in point – the Fringe Festival gave Rachel Perks (the winner of this year's Best Producer category) the support to bring her screenplay, Angry Sexx, to life for this year's festival.

“All of a sudden I was signing contracts and had a crew and cast and a director and it was all happening,” says Perks, whose play addressed sexism and contemporary gender politics.

The annual awards benefit some artists through professional development, recognition and further opportunities. In some cases artists will be supported to take their shows onto other Fringe events around Australia and further afield.

For Perks, the award will result in a kind of mentorship with the creative director of this year's Melbourne Festival, Josephine Ridge, who will assist her in organising further opportunities – quite a result for the recent VCA graduate.

This year's festival was the biggest on record with more than 5000 artists, 400 shows and 150 venues. Fringe has also confirmed that the crowds were the largest in the festival’s history, which goes back to 1982.

The Category Winners and Sponsored Winners are listed below.

Melbourne Fringe Category Awards

Best Kids
April Underhill: Tooth Fairy

Best Visual Arts
Jessie Deane for [THR]EDIFICE

Best Cabaret
Reception: The Musical

Best Circus
The Birdmann in Momentous Timing

Best Dance
Summer Bone

Best Live Art
Chinese Whispers (producer Rani Pramesti)

Best Music
Pete Reid: Songs From The Edge of the World

Best Comedy

Best Performance

Best Venue
Court House Hotel

The People’s Choice Award

Melbourne Fringe Sponsored Awards

Best Emerging Writer – Presented by Writers Victoria and MTC
Fleur Kilpatrick for The City They Burned

Fringe Film: Best New Work – Presented by Little Creatures
Cumulo by Benjamin Ducroz

Fringe Film: Best Student Work – Presented by Little Creatures
Foot Patrol by Anthony Vita

Best Emerging Visual Artist or Curator – Presented by West Space
Sophie Gearon for Blindside

Best Emerging Producer – Presented by Auspicious Arts Incubator
Shannon Woodford for SHOWSTOPPER

Best Emerging Indigenous Artist – Presented by 3KND Radio/Melbourne Fringe
Jilli Riley in 7
(Highly Commended Sharaka Montalto for her work in Total Eclipse)

Innovation in Culturally Diverse Practice - Presented by Kultour
Chinese Whispers (producer Rani Pramesti)

Best Emerging Circus Performer – Presented by ACAPTA
3 Steps Ahead

Original New Circus – Presented by Circus Oz
Gravity Dolls

The Discovery Award – Presented by Melbourne Festival
Rachel Perks for Angry Sexx

SA Tour Ready – Presented by Adelaide Fringe

WA Tour Ready – Presented by Fringe World Perth

NZ Tour Ready – Presented by NZ Fringe and Auckland Fringe
Bucket's List

Best Experimental Performance – Presented by PACT Sydney
Summer Bone

Outstanding Comedy Show – Presented by Brisbane Powerhouse