Rising Festival announced for 2021, to replace Melbourne Arts and White Night festivals

Set to commission local artists directly from a $2million fund

RISING Festival, a replacement event for the Melbourne International Arts and White Night festivals, has been announced for 2021 with a commissioning fund of $2million direct to local artists.

The innaugral RISING festival promises to directly “and immediately” commission Victorian artists to create new works for the festival, with a significant focus on live music.

RISING have hired Meredith and Golden Plains festival music director Woody McDonald and DARK MOFO’s as music curator and co-artistic director respectively.


The festival was initially set to take place in August of this year, but the coronavirus pandemic has now pushed its debut to May next year. It is predominantly bankrolled by the Victorian government, with commissioning grants to artists to be dispensed in $2000 bursaries. Artists are asked to submit works which could only be realised in a festival context and that are specific to Melbourne, “our time and place”.

“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,” Fox said.

“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?’”

If Australian borders are open before the festival’s start date, it is likely international artists will join its roster. It is unknown when a full program will be revealed.

The Victorian government has not disclosed the total cost of the festival, citing commercial confidentiality. State Minister for the Creative Industries, Martin Foley, said in a press release that the festival will be important for Melbourne to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic with its arts and culture intact.


RISING will take place in and around Melbourne, from May 26 to June 6 2021.