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Rising Melbourne

Replacing Melbourne International Arts Festival and White Night, the inaugural festival was set to start on a full moon in May.
By Samantha Teague
January 04, 2021
By Samantha Teague
January 04, 2021

When the Victorian Government last year announced a huge new citywide arts festival was set to launch in winter 2020, they didn't expect it to fall in the middle of a global pandemic. As that is what happened, though, the new annual festival — merging Melbourne International Arts Festival and arts all-nighter White Night — didn't  go ahead in 2020 as planned. Instead, the inaugural festival is now set to take over Melbourne in 2021.

Called Rising, it'll kick off on the May 26 full moon and run until June 6, 2021, encouraging the audience to "celebrate the night with a surge of art, music and ceremony in the heart of the city". Pulling the strings are co-Artistic Directors Gideon Obarzanek and Hannah Fox, who are both practising artists and former Artistic Associates of Melbourne Festival.

Fox was also the Creative Director at Tasmania's winter festival Dark Mofo, while Obarzanek founded dance company Chunky Move and was a resident artist at the Sydney Theatre Company.

Chinatown at night courtesy of the City of Melbourne

When 2020's festival was unable to go ahead, Fox and Obarzanek announced a $2 million fund for local artists to create shows, exhibitions and events for 2021's program. And the duo encouraged ideas that are as boundary-pushing as possible.

"Rather than prescribing specific outcomes, we are seeking ideas that are ambitious, unusual and that could only happen in a festival context," explained Obarzanek in a statement. "Whether these respond to the times or reach beyond them, we invite ideas that are radical and critical; ideas that are absurd and bombastic; ideas that are contemplative and philosophical; and ideas that are celebratory and unifying."

While details about the 2021 program are fairly under wraps for now, The Age reported leaks suggesting the 2020 lineup would've included transforming Chinatown "into a 'sensory wonderland' of lighting, video art and music, open late into the night" and a 400-metre light installation on the Yarra River.

Rising is set to support Victoria's tourism and hospitality industries in the quieter months and, no doubt, provide a Melbourne equivalent to Sydney's popular Vivid festival,

Rising will take place in Melbourne from May 26–June 6 2021.

Top image: 'A Purple Poem for Miami' by Judy Chicago.

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