Photo: rising.melbourne
RISING, also known as RISING: Melbourne, is an annual arts festival held in the Australian city of Melbourne. It was founded in 2020 to replace two citywide cultural events: the Melbourne Festival and White Night.

The Melbourne Festival was inaugurated in 1986 as a sister festival of the Festival dei Due Mondi in Spoleto, Italy and the Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, South Carolina. It was a major international arts festival held every spring, running over 17 days in October. In 2019, it was announced that the Melbourne Festival would merge with the White Night festival to create a new major arts and culture festival called RISING, with Gideon Obarzanek and Hannah Fox as its co-artistic directors and co-CEOs.

RISING was announced in May 2020 and was scheduled to take place for the first time in August 2020, but COVID-19 restrictions caused the inaugural festival to be postponed into 2021. It was supposed to take place on May 26 – June 6, 2021 and indeed opened on the scheduled date. However, the program was paused on the very next day due to a new COVID-19 outbreak, and the organizers eventually had to cancel the remainder of the festival as the Melbourne lockdown was extended.

The first full-fledged RISING festival was held on June 1–12, 2022. Its program comprised 225 events, including 14 world premieres and 22 commissions, featuring more than 800 local and international artists who transformed the city of Melbourne into their canvas. These events included public art installations, large-scale and intimate theater and dance performances, an extensive music program, and a variety of family-focused events and activities.

According to the festival’s team, RISING is the flagship cultural event in Victoria. It is a festival of music, art, culture, and food that takes place in the most beloved venues of Melbourne, spilling onto the city streets, squares, and even parking lots. Some of the events are ticketed and have limited seating, but many are free and easily accessible for everyone.

RISING’s program has something for everyone: there are installations, visual art, live music, performances, film screenings, and unique food events for attendees of all ages and backgrounds. RISING prides itself on commissioning Australian, particularly Victorian and First Nation work, to be programmed alongside its international offerings.

The Victorian Government funds RISING through the government body Creative Victoria and the tourism and events company Visit Victoria. Other sources of funding include the Australian Government, City of Melbourne, and a range of donors and sponsors.

In 2023, RISING partnered with the John Truscott Foundation to present the first John Truscott Artists Award. John Truscott was an Australian actor, costume designer, production designer, and artistic director who won two Academy Awards in 1967 for his work on Camelot. The John Truscott Artists Award celebrates innovative design and willingness to take artistic risks; it is awarded to an individual artist or small artistic group at the end of the RISING festival.

RISING: Melbourne

Photo: rising.melbourne




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