Monday, March 6, 2017

White Nights in Ballarat

White Night makes regional Australia debut as Ballarat celebrates arts festival

The White Night festival made its debut in regional Australia overnight with about 40,000 people attending the inaugural arts festival in Ballarat. 

Central Ballarat was transformed into a series of spectacular canvases and the city's 19th century buildings were awash with colour. 

"Ballarat has an embarrassment of riches in terms of the fantastic, almost boulevard-style streets," said the event's artistic director David Atkins. 

"It's very different to Melbourne in terms of crowd control — we've got a fantastic opportunity for people to be able to move through the precinct very easily." 

"So it's a much more intimate experience from that point of view." 

Historic Lydiard Street's most spectacular architecture was lit up with projections featuring gold rush-era poetry, neon soundscapes and animations, as buskers and performers entertained the crowds.
White Night artist Miles Walsh, from the renowned and Ballarat-based Aboriginal collective the Pitcha Makin Fellas, was among the revellers. 

"Everybody seems to be really getting a buzz out of having such a great event here in Ballarat," he said. 

Standing before the group's work, Still More Than One Nation, another artist from the group, Thomas Marks, said he was brought to tears. 

"That's how good I felt, I started crying. When I see my artwork up there, watching all these people watching it I started to get tears in my eyes," he said. 

In nearby laneways, there were other more intimate artworks. Children played with motion sensitive night lights strapped to a wall and wrapped themselves with neon fibre cables. 


It was the first time regional Australia has played host to the festival, a change welcomed by Commerce Ballarat vice-chairwoman Hayley Coates. 

"All of our businesses benefit," she said. 

"It benefits the economy overall, but it benefits tourism, retail, hospitality, bringing visitors to the town, getting locals out and about in the town. It's fantastic for everyone." 

Beth Lamont, another artist based in the city, said the event was a huge confidence boost. 

"For anyone in regional areas, not just Ballarat, to show that an international headliner event can happen outside of a metro area, that's exciting."

Thanks to Mary Anne Glazar for sending me the link!

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