After Dark event marks beginning of big changes for Geelong’s CBD

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Geelong’s Arts and Culture Precinct is about to get a makeover, thanks to the success of this month’s After Dark event. Geelong’s mayor Bruce Harwood talks to D*scribe about his plans for the precinct and how he aims to rejuvenate Geelong’s nightlife to replicate Melbourne’s. He says After Dark is just the beginning. 

After Dark is an artistic exploration held in the heart of Geelong. On Friday, May 3, Central Geelong was bursting with artists and performers, and people filled laneways, hidden spaces and cultural buildings observing what was on offer. The City of Greater Geelong has big plans to rejuvenate this area. Cr Harwood says the renovation of the Arts Precinct will reflect Geelong’s increasing transition from an industrial town to art and culture capital. He expects this reconstruction to be completed by 2022.

The reconstruction of the Arts Precinct will not only provide more opportunity for artists but will also upgrade Geelong’s nightlife.  

“We’re looking at our laneways in Geelong and how we can activate those (to) have little funky bars and cafes in them,” Cr Harwood told D*Scribe.

Photo: Artists impression of the Arts and Cultural Precinct

He said the list of projects included the Geelong Performing Arts Centre, which is already under construction; the Government State Building which will become a precinct for design; the council offices, which are moving out of the Town Hall to make room for the Geelong Art Gallery to come through; and the expansion of the Art Gallery, which will double the size of its capacity.

The success of After Dark indicates how much the people of Geelong are willing to celebrate art and therefore support this focus on rejuvenating the Arts Precinct. The event cemented the City’s new reputation as an art and culture capital.

The free event hosted almost 80 acts that included interactive art, music, street performances, installations, exhibitions, dance and projections.   

You could easily have mistaken Little Malop St with Melbourne’s Lygon St. The restaurants lining the street were packed.

This means good things for the economy. Cr Harwood said he was confident that this year’s event would have contributed more to the local economy than last year’s $2.1 million.

“The crowds were great. I think it would be even better than last year,” he said.

Parents and children dominated the crowd. However, it was also a great chance to do something fun with friends that didn’t involve drinking or spending money.

One of the standouts was a performance by Geelong’s Blink Dance Theatre Company.

Young women wore old fashioned hoop skirts covered in lights to symbolise the changing role and visibility of women in Geelong. 

Photo: Blink Dance Theatre Company

If the makeover goes to plan, Geelong can expect more nights like these, nights that help foster the city’s reputation as an arts and culture capital. 

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