The Fringe Club's City Festival was launched on Thursday night with an opening fete on the roof garden. The little arts festival that could did it again, putting together a terrific lineup, despite lean times and leaner resources. The opening event also overcame the absence of its spark plug - the event's chairwoman, Wailee Chow. She was laid up in bed with rheumatoid arthritis, but that didn't stop her from delivering an address - by video from her bed. 'I'm sorry to make you all stand there while I'm lying down,' she joked. Artistic director Benny Chia made the introduction. 'It's the first festival of the year and as an urban culture festival, what we are trying to achieve is heritage preservation and engaging in cultural exchange. Last year gave new meaning to the [phrase] 'lost generation'. Everyone is worried about their losses, but we are cautiously optimistic.' That's because 2009 will be a big year for the Fringe, as a complete overhaul of the building will begin this summer, with architecture firm Atelier Pacific in charge. For a preview, cabaret artist Poppy Roe (below) performed the Marilyn Monroe-inspired gem Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend at the reception, then rushed downstairs to open her show, Marilyn and Will, while Rick Lau seduced the crowd with My Funny Valentine. For a while, everyone forgot the recession. As Chia said, 'with less money, you just become more creative'. The City Festival continues until January 24.