How to stage a festival in a city with no CBD

The Gold Coast is a city with no identifiable CBD, so how does its unique geography impact the annual BLEACH* Festival?

Festivals are shaped by their cities; they reflect not only the people who live there, but also the unique geography and culture of the places in which they are staged.

Cities such as Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide have a clearly defined CBD with cultural infrastructure to match, including major galleries, theatres and concert halls. Consequently, such cities enable their local festivals to truly make a mark. ‘That’s what CBDs do – they really allow you to lay a brand over the CBD so everyone knows that you’re on. It’s difficult for us to do that on the Gold Coast, because we’re 76 kilometres long across multiple sites. We don’t have a city centre,’ explains the Gold Coast’s BLEACH* Festival CEO and Artistic Director, Rosie Dennis.

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Richard Watts is ArtsHub's National Performing Arts Editor; he also presents the weekly program SmartArts on Three Triple R FM, and serves as the Chair of La Mama Theatre's volunteer Committee of Management. Richard is a life member of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, and was awarded the status of Melbourne Fringe Living Legend in 2017. In 2020 he was awarded the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards' Facilitator's Prize. Most recently, Richard was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Green Room Awards Association in June 2021. Follow him on Twitter: @richardthewatts