$17.2 million package to reactivate Victorian arts sector announced

A summer season of outdoor events, including a new festival at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, will help the state’s creative industries get back on their feet and reconnect with audiences.
$17.2 million package to reactivate Victorian arts sector announced Artist's render of the COVID-safe outdoor staging plan at Arts Centre Melbourne's Sidney Myer Music Bowl. Image supplied.
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Richard Watts

Tuesday 10 November, 2020

The Andrews Labor Government has announced a $17.2 million package to help reactivate Victoria’s arts sector, creating job opportunities across the creative and event industries while simultaneously taking arts experiences outdoors into COVID-safe environments.

Minister for Creative Industries Danny Pearson this week announced a summer season of art, music and entertainment designed to enable Victorians to reconnect with COVID-safe cultural experiences.

The season includes outdoor performances at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Melbourne Museum, National Gallery of Victoria and a range of other cultural venues.

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‘This extensive program will showcase Victoria’s incredible creative talent, deliver thousands of jobs and reinvigorate our creative, hospitality and events sectors,’ Pearson said.

‘It will be a celebration of all we’ve achieved together to get through this year and will bring people back to the experiences we love in new, exciting and COVID-safe ways.’

The $17.2 million package includes $7.9 million designed to assist Victoria’s public cultural institutions in staging outdoors experiences.

Outdoor gatherings are believed to be considerably safer in terms of transmission risks for the novel Coronavirus, with researchers finding (according to a pre-print study that has not yet been peer-reviewed) that the risk of transmission indoors was nearly 20 times higher when compared with outdoor events and activities.

‘It will be a celebration of all we’ve achieved together to get through this year and will bring people back to the experiences we love in new, exciting and COVID-safe ways.’

- Minister for Creative Industries Danny Pearson 

As part of the outdoor cultural celebrations supported by the new funding package, Arts Centre Melbourne will transform the Sidney Myer Music Bowl into a COVID-safe venue for the Live at the Bowl summer festival – running from January to March and featuring more than 40 performances. It is expected to create close to 2,000 job opportunities in the creative and event industries.

Arts Centre Melbourne CEO Claire Spencer AM said: ‘Since we closed our doors in March, we’ve been dying to do what we do best for all Victorians – welcome back artists to our stages and audiences to our venues to share in remarkable cultural experiences once again. Live at the Bowl celebrates the very best of Melbourne, creating unique programs and experiences that provide Victorians with irresistible opportunities to reconnect with the art they love, which we have all missed so much – in comfort, and safety.  

‘We are extraordinarily lucky to be supported by a State Government that understands the enormous value art and culture plays to the fabric of a community, and the role it plays in thriving and prosperous societies. We can’t wait to welcome Victorian’s back to the Bowl,’ Spencer added.

Full program details for Live at the Bowl will be announced in early December.

Additional outdoors events will be presented by Museums Victoria, whose Melbourne Museum Summer Plaza series will feature performances, movies curated by IMAX Melbourne, food and beverage offerings and programs for all ages.

Coinciding with the free NGV Triennial exhibition of contemporary art and design, the NGV Garden will host a long summer of relaxed dining and music from December through to April.

NGV Triennial EXTRA festival also returns for weeks of late nights in January and February and featuring free performances, dance and community programs.

State Library Victoria, Melbourne Recital Centre, ACMI and Federation Square will also activate their outdoor spaces with creative experiences ranging from live music to storytelling.

‘We are extraordinarily lucky to be supported by a State Government that understands the enormous value art and culture plays to the fabric of a community...’

- Arts Centre Melbourne CEO Claire Spencer

Outside of Melbourne, the Geelong Arts Centre will team up with Deakin University to present a month-long summer season of events under a big top, while a further $5 million will support a new series of live music events across regional and peri-urban communities.

Such performances are intended to reunite Victorians and help the state’s live music industry and its thousands of businesses and workers get back on their feet.

Another dedicated funding pool of almost $4.3 million will enable 16 leading Victorian arts companies and festivals to present summer and autumn programs outdoors, including Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Midsumma Festival, Shepparton Arts Festival and Creative Clunes.

All activities and events will be presented in accordance with public health requirements and institutions will continue to present a diverse program of virtual creative experiences.

The latest support package from the Andrews Government brings the state’s COVID-support expenditure to more than $107 million.

About the author

Richard Watts is ArtsHub's National Performing Arts Editor; he also presents the weekly program SmartArts on community radio station Three Triple R FM, a program he has hosted since 2004.

Richard currently serves as the Chair of La Mama Theatre's volunteer Committee of Management, and is also a former Chair of Melbourne Fringe. The founder of the Emerging Writers' Festival, he has also served as President of the Green Room Awards Association and as a member of the Green Room's Independent Theatre panel. 

Richard is a life member of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, and was awarded the status of Melbourne Fringe Festival Living Legend in 2017. Most recently he was awarded the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards' Facilitator's Prize for 2019.

Twitter: @richardthewatts