After 12 exhilarating nights of artistic exploration and cultural immersion, RISING, the city’s premier winter festival, has come to a close for 2023. Over the past two weeks, RISING has transformed Melbourne into a vibrant playground of music, art, food and performance with its diverse program of 185 events featuring over 800 artists bringing audiences in their hundreds of thousands.
Across the festival period RISING has attracted over 630,000 attendees and counting, with that number continuing to grow as key program pieces The Rink, Shadow Spirit and Electric extend their seasons into July. With sell out shows across the festival, and an array of free, low cost and pubic programming this year RISING truly delivered as “a festival that you do” as nearly 11,000 participants descended on Federation Square to take part in a world-record breaking kazoo performance, while more than 60,000 visitors looked up in wonder at SPARK, the mesmerising light installation from Dutch artist Daan Rosegaarde over it’s four night run.
From the enchanting sound and video collaboration of Wu-Tsang and Beverly Glenn-Copeland’s Anthem, that drew more than 36,000 people into St Paul’s Cathedral, to the heaving Night Trade hub in the carpark next door that drew more than 80,000, the festival has taken audiences on a journey of discovery and delight.
At Birrarung Marr The Rink at RISING drew close to 40,000 visitors to the free precinct to slice up the ice or simply drop in to take in the vibe and have a bite. Such was the demand that additional ice skating sessions were added across the festival, while the season at The Rink has been extended until 8 July, through the winter school holidays.
At the heart of RISING Shadow Spirit, the largest ever commissioned collection of contemporary First Peoples art in Victoria’s history, Flinders Street Station’s upper level has become a portal to ancestral spirit worlds, inviting visitors to reflect on Australia’s history and engage with the profound wisdom and knowledge of Indigenous artists. With sell out sessions through the festival period, Shadow Spirit’s season has also been extended beyond the festival dates right through to 30 July, while Yorta Yorta/Wurundjeri artist Aunty Zeta Thomson’s large scale projection Spirits of the Land will continue at Hamer Hall until 16 July as part of Electric.
RISING Co-Artistic Directors Hannah Fox and Gideon Obarzanek in a shared statement:
We spent a lot of time preparing for this and are just so excited to witness RISING now owned by the artists, audiences and the city. Our team behind the scenes have been brilliant and the artists, musicians and performers have been remarkable. Melbourne has rejoiced in RISING and we are grateful.
Minister for Creative Industries Steve Dimopoulos
RISING is redefining what winter looks like in Melbourne. From world records to world firsts, RISING has brought crowds of Victorians and visitors into the CBD, making the city buzz with art, music, performances – and the unique sound of more than 10,000 people forming a massive orchestra at Federation Square playing the kazoo.” he said, “We are proud to support RISING – with the creative experiences it brings to life and boost for jobs, local businesses and hospitality across Melbourne.
Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp added:
The essence of RISING has surged throughout our CBD, boosting visitation and delivering enormous economic benefits for our traders. Foot traffic has soared in tandem with the festival, with activity sensors indicating significant uplifts surrounding Town Hall for Euphoria and The Arts Centre, as well as flow-on effects to key hospitality districts at Southbank and Chinatown” she continued “Free and low-cost elements like SPARK, the all-in joyous cacophony that was 10,000 Kazoos and Euphoria meant this was a festival accessible to all.
Dance enthusiasts were treated to a range of captivating performances, including the powerful Tracker by Australian Dance Theatre, which shared the story of Wiradjuri Elder Alec Riley, the thought-provoking Identity by the Australian Ballet, while Florentina Holzinger shattered gender clichés with her genre-defying sold out season of TANZ.
RISING’s music program pushed boundaries and delighted audiences with its genre-bending lineup. From Weyes Blood, Ethel Cain and Thundercat’s electrifying performance at the Forum Theatre to Paul Kelly’s soul-stirring melodies, the festival showcased both internationally renowned artists and cutting-edge local talent. The closing night parties led by hip hop icon Madlib at the Forum and curated by the influential NTS at Max Watts saw the festival end with a bang and attendees buzzing with excitement into the early hours of the morning.
As RISING concludes for another year, the echoes of its impact will continue to resonate throughout Melbourne like the harmonic hum of so many kazoos as the festival reminds us that even in the depths of winter, Melbourne remains a vibrant hub of creativity and inspiration.
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