Melbourne To Takeover As Arts Capital Of Australia?


The world’s most liveable city, Melbourne ready to snatch arts capital title

If you love the arts, where is it better to live Melbourne or Sydney?

The rivalry between our two greatest cities has been fought on every front. Melbourne might concede on some points around business and finance but is it beginning to carve out its own dominance in arts and culture.

Sydney had a head start with the opera house, and that is quite a head start, but the city has focused more and more over the last decade on being the work-hard and play-not-so-much capital of Australia. Lock-out laws and strictly enforced public nuisance laws around sound levels have decimated Sydney’s music scene, while Melbourne has been investing in arts at every level. 

Melbourne’s National Gallery of Victoria already is the most visited gallery in the whole of Australia, beating galleries in Sydney and Canberra. Now it is capitalising on that by being the only gallery in Australia to welcome the first major exhibition of Van Gogh paintings in decades.

Van Gogh’s exclusive Melbourne arts exhibition landed in April and is a massive accomplishment for the Melbourne arts sector. The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) has secured the biggest exhibition of major pieces of Van Gogh’s work with some pieces travelling from the world renowned London National Gallery. 

NGV director Tony Ellwood told ABC news: “There is one work that has completely taken our breath away, which we didn’t think we’d secure — the Cypresses from the National Gallery of London”.

“It’s one of the most famous pictures in the world and it will be the anchor, the centrepiece of the show,” he said.

The NGV worked hard in consistently liaising with international museums, most importantly with the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam to secure Australia’s largest art exhibition.

The Melbourne arts sector tends to cultivate creativity. There use of back laneways and small warehouses are innovating the way in which Arts spaces are now being created. Sydney’s stand still art spots may overlook the beautiful harbour and create unforgettable vibes but they don’t push the boundaries of creativity. They like simplicity. Simplicity can be great as a visual but it doesn’t allow for growth, especially in the creative world.   

Melbourne festival Sugar Mountain is a dedicated example of the creative industry that Melbourne encourages. The festival is held down back laneways in the Melbourne CBD and features art from local Victorian College of The Arts students.

Funding for the arts in Victoria has continual support from the government. Recently the Arts Centre of Melbourne welcomed the Andrews Labor Government’s $40 million  investment for arts infrastructure upgrades. The Arts Centre in Melbourne holds around 1,500 performances each year and the funding will prove extremely beneficial to the overall infrastructure. The Victorian Government has also established a $10 million commitment to contemporary music destinations. 

Creativity is fixed into Melbourne’s art culture circle with new and exciting things happening each week. Melbournians showcase their individuality having grown a fond appreciation for street art that is hidden away in some of their famous laneways. The art is not condemned rather encouraged with support from Melbourne Design Guide and Melbourne council. 

Melbournians also take a step ahead of Sydney with their love of late night music. Sydney’s legislation requires 1.30am lockouts and 3am last drinks at bars, pubs and clubs in the Sydney CBD. The chance for Sydney to be able to cater to a creative music space would often be non-existent with these laws in place. Melbournians support for local music talent is often displayed in these late night venues and carries on into the early hours of the morning. 

The Melbourne Council continue to support the original ideas of upcoming talent with their annual City of Melbourne arts grants program. The $20,000 grant allows for upcoming artists, performers and creative groups to expand their imaginative ideas into a reality. 

Arts, Culture and Heritage Chair Rohan Leppert said on the City of Melbourne page that Arts grants helped to build the quality and diversity of Melbourne’s artistic output.

“From film and visual art, to dance, literature and music events, these grants support our talented creative community to deliver innovative projects that contribute to Melbourne’s reputation as a leading cultural city,” Cr Leppert said.

The City of Melbourne council also developed an Arts Strategy back in 2014 carrying right through to the end of this year. With over 1000 people involved in the decision-making process the strategy will help support the vision for the City of Melbourne to continue to grow as an arts capital. 

Melbourne continues to foster the creative minds of the incredible upcoming talent within the arts sector. A walk through the city will captivate you with live performance, street entertainers, painted back streets and trendy bars. Although a clear winner has never been crowned it is suffice to say that when it comes to Arts and Culture Melbourne’s creativity comes out on top. 






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