Has RISING risen only to face a future fall?

While celebrating record attendance and strong sales, RISING’s future still seems uncertain.
Night Trade at RISING 2024. Photo: Gianna Rizzo. People gathering in an alleyway where a bit screen is showing a white triangle with the word ‘up’. The image is saturated by red light.

RISING, Victoria’s “new” premier arts festival has continued to shoot for the stars, but has it ever reached orbit? After a rocky start, including two failed take-offs due to the pandemic, the festival would like us to think so. Following the wrap-up of RISING 2024’s festival program on 16 June, a media release spruiking the festival’s growth and success was distributed to news outlets.

Over 680,000 people attended the festival between 1 and 16 June 2024. However, RISING’s 2023 annual report reveals that this was a decline on last year’s attendance figures of 757,793. While attendance numbers during last year’s “core festival” sat at 630,000, a six-week extension to the highly popular Shadow Spirit exhibition and a three-week extension of The Rink brought about a further 127,000 attendees. 

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Jessi Ryan (they/them) has been creating performance and exhibitions for the past 20 years, both locally, nationally and abroad- in this time collaborating with a huge number of artists from a broad cross section of cultural backgrounds. As a journalist they have written for and been published by some of Australia’s leading arts and news editorial across the last 10 years-and was recognised as a finalist for Globe Community Media Award in 2021. Ryan has also taken photos for a number of print and online publications.