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Rising Is Melbourne's Huge New Annual Winter Arts Festival

Replacing Melbourne International Arts Festival and White Night, the inaugural festival will start on a full moon in May 2021.
By Samantha Teague
May 21, 2020
By Samantha Teague
May 21, 2020

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 — will not go ahead this year, with the inaugural festival 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

As this year's festival cannot go ahead, Fox and Obarzanek have instead announced a $2 million fund for local artists to create shows, exhibitions and events for 2021's program. And the duo are encouraging 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."

Victorian artists have until Monday, June 8 to submit their idea and bid for a piece of the $2 million pie, via a 300-word or two-minute video proposal.

While details about this year's festival — and next year's 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.

Published on May 21, 2020 by Samantha Teague
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