RISING – a new Melbourne Festival emerges

RISING Gideon Obarzanek and Hannah Fox - photo by Jo DuckDuring this time of profound and powerful change, the promise of an entirely new arts experience stirs. Running from 26 May to 6 June 2021, Melbourne’s newest annual arts festival, RISING, will invite audiences to celebrate the night with a surge of art, music and ceremony in the heart of the city.

Established as one of the world’s most engaging and liveable cities, Melbourne sees artistic experiences permeate and punctuate every aspect of life. A new major event for the Asia Pacific region, RISING is set to further reflect and elevate Melbourne’s status as a leading cultural destination.

RISING’s recently appointed co-Artistic Directors Gideon Obarzanek and Hannah Fox have together set out a vision for the festival to be a generator of powerful artistic and social experiences and now, as the entire planet witnesses a profound disruption to modern life, the duo is even more determined to create opportunities for artists and bring audiences together.

“One of the upsides we see emerging from this difficult time is the hard proof that radical change on a monumental scale is in fact possible. This seems fertile ground to be working with artists to build something new for Melbourne,” says Fox.

“This moment has forced us to think deeply about the future of festivals and about how we can build greater sustainability. It challenges us to champion local artists without being parochial and to find new ways to stay connected internationally. It insists that we accurately gauge the public mood and ask: what will the community want and need 12 months from now?

As the world enters a period of recovery and regeneration, RISING – which will take the place of Melbourne International Arts Festival and White Night Melbourne in Victoria’s events calendar – will look to play a vital role in helping to re-stitch Australia’s cultural landscape with a grand vision that will bring the best of Victorian talent to audiences across the city.

To support this vision, Fox and Obarzanek have this week announced a major and immediate investment in Victorian artists. RISING – the inaugural event of which was planned for 2020 and is now scheduled for winter 2021 – will invest $2m in local artists to develop shows, exhibitions and events for inclusion in the festival’s program.

Fox and Obarzanek, themselves practising Melbourne artists, said that the funding represents a substantial investment into Victoria’s creative sector and will help shape the outcomes of future festivals. “Victoria is home to some of Australia’s most notable artists, musicians and performing arts companies, along with some of the country’s most adventurous audiences,” says Obarzanek.

“We draw great inspiration from the state’s vibrant arts community and are excited by this chance to provide new opportunities and possibilities. With the festival now having the benefit of extra time to develop distinct artist-led projects, we invite artists to submit ideas that can reach new audiences and capture national and international attention.”

“Rather than prescribing specific outcomes, we are seeking ideas that are ambitious, unusual and that could only happen in a festival context. 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.”

Consisting of a diverse team of national and international arts professionals, RISING’s curatorial advisory group will assess all submissions for the 2021 festival following an open EOI process.

The group comprises Genevieve Lacey (Artist & Curator), Woody McDonald (RISING Music Curator), Amrita Hepi (Artist), Jeff Kahn (Artistic Director, Performance Space), Daniel Browning (Artist & Curator), Kimberley Moulton (Curator), Michael Morris (Co-Director, Artangel, London), Stefan Schmidtke (Artistic Director, Theater der Welt, Dusseldorf) and Rachel Chanoff (Director, The Office, NYC).

Not only will the panel look to identify new Victorian work to premiere at RISING 2021, it will also facilitate co-investments and future iterations for these works to be shown in other parts of Australia and abroad.

RISING is set to play an important role as we emerge from this crisis, reigniting the exciting creative offering Victoria is known for and rebooting our visitor economy,” said Minister for Creative Industries, Martin Foley. “While this festival will be global in its ambition and scope, Victorian artists and creativity will be at its heart.”

Fox concludes: “As we navigate the ever-changing landscape, the one thing we are sure of is that art will endure and defy all notions of what is deemed essential and non-essential by rising up regardless.”

RISING will take place in Melbourne from 26 May to 6 June 2021. For more information, including A Call to Artists, visit: www.rising.melbourne for details.

Image: Gideon Obarzanek and Hannah Fox – photo by Jo Duck

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