As the city reopens and resurges back to life, RISING, the state's newest major cultural event has today unveiled its inaugural program. Set to envelop the city in a tide of art, music, performance and ceremony, RISING will comprise 133 events and projects – including 36 world premiere commissions – featuring over 750 Victorian artists, who will transform Melbourne over 12 nights from May 26 – June 6.
Conceived and commissioned to become the Asia Pacific's preeminent cultural festival, RISING will begin on the evening of May's total lunar eclipse, with the city and its surrounds becoming the canvas for a celebration of the night and an explosion of new cultural experiences on a scale not yet seen in Australia.
From its most iconic venues and hallowed public spaces to its labyrinthine laneways, and twisting waterways, Melbourne will come alive with an array of free and family focussed events, illuminating public art installations, large-scale performances and intimate provocations that will mark, interrogate and celebrate a moment in time defined by the artists of today and tomorrow.
"Gideon [Obarzanek] and I feel incredibly proud to be launching the inaugural RISING program, especially one that so strongly represents the collective creative energy of Melbourne and the culture and artists it's famous for" said co-artistic director, Hannah Fox.
"The vision for RISING is centred on the idea that culture is a human right. This means really embedding art, music and ceremony in public spaces and creating opportunities for participation.
RISING is a festival of unrepeatable, site-specific performance and large-scale public art, new collaborations in theatre and dance, and novel line ups in live music all connected by food, wine and fun. With over 130 projects in the program from a naked disco for one to an installation floating on the river for many thousands, we invite all of the many communities of Melbourne to come together again after too long apart"
"This very first RISING festival celebrates the strength, diversity and resilience of Victoria's creative community," said Minister for Creative Industries Danny Pearson. "It brings together hundreds of our artists, musicians, choreographers, writers, theatre makers, designers and hospitality stars to create a memorable 12-night event for all Victorians to enjoy."
RISING will take place across five distinct geographic areas – the Birrarung; Chinatown; the Arts District; Midtown; and Satellite sites – with the aim of increasing these districts and their footprint year-on-year.
"Since the very beginning a strong sense of place has been central to our plans for RISING," said Obarzanek. "For us, a clear identity through place is what now distinguishes great festivals and the unique experience they offer. For RISING, we wanted to showcase work made specifically for this city that captures, celebrates and responds unambiguously to Melbourne now."
"Last year we began to plan extraordinary events with many artists and creative teams who were all isolated and their work paralysed. At times the possibility for coming back together was unknown and felt remote but the work sustained us and gave purpose. Determined, we continued to look ahead and now the time is right. Melbourne is looking forward to a great festival and we are ready to celebrate."