The Arts and Art Festivals

Melbourne is known for its diverse, multi-layered culture and society. It hosts many traditional and commercial cultural institutions such as theatre, popular music and film, sport and fashion, as well as hosting diverse alternative cultural institutions, particularly street art, independent music, art and film. Melbourne is considered the cultural and sporting capital of Australia and is accepted by many within the country as having a more diverse culture, due in part to the multicultural background of its population. Melbourne is therefore perceived to be somewhat removed or disconnected from popular Australian culture. The city celebrates a wide variety of annual cultural events, including:

Performing Arts

Melbourne is strong in the performing arts. It is home to the Australian Ballet. The National Theatre in St Kilda is the oldest ballet school in Australia. Ballet regularly features at the Victorian Arts Centre and the National Theatre. Melbourne is the second home of Opera Australia  after it merged with 'Victoria State Opera' in 1996. The Victorian Opera  had its inaugural season in 2006 and operates out of various venues in Melbourne. The Royal Melbourne Philharmonic is Australia's oldest continuously existing musical organisation and the only orchestra in Australia to be bestowed 'royal' status. The Victoria Orchestra, based in Melbourne was Australia's first professional orchestra and performed during 1888–91. The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, first assembled in 1906, is now the city's premier orchestra and tours internationally.

Visual Arts

Melbourne is home to a large array of public artworks, statues and sculptures. Sculptors such as Deborah Halpern have played a large part in enhancing many of the city's public spaces with their iconic and larger-than-life works. In more modern times, the city has become well known for stencil graffiti, public art that appears in the city's numerous laneways. The city is home to the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, an organisation dedicated to the moving image in all its forms, from film to animation to video games and television. The city has major film festivals including the Melbourne International Film FestivalMelbourne Queer Film FestivalMelbourne Underground Film Festival  and Melbourne International Animation Festival, featuring several of the city's major cinemas.

Australian Centre For Contemporary Art

The Australian Centre for Contemporary Art is without doubt Melbourne's leading contemporary art gallery presenting some of the most challenging, innovative and creative visual art of our time, not the least of which is the centre itself. Resembling a rusting monolith in its own sandy desert, the building has quickly become one of Melbourne’s contemporary architectural icons. Its rusty red-brown steel exterior was intended to evoke the arid reality of the Australian continent. Situated in the heart of Melbourne’s Southbank arts precinct, the Centre's aim is to bring the latest and most significant artwork by living artists from around the world to Melbourne audiences, and commission new artworks by local and international artists.

Contact: (03) 9697 9999. Website.
Location: 111 Sturt Street, Southbank.
Getting there: by rail, 10 minute walk from the city, across Princess Bridge, up St. Kilda Road from Flinders Street Station. By tram, Route 1 Sturt Street Stop No. 18 (to front door) or Tram Routes 3, 5, 8, 16, 64, 67, 72 alight at Stop No. 17 on the corner of St. Kilda Road and Grant Street, then 2 minute walk to the end of Grant Street.

Victorian Arts Centre

The Victorian Arts Centre is the focal point of Melbourne's vibrant arts precinct. Situated across the Yarra River from the Melbourne CBD and part of Southbank, the Victorian Arts Centre is the local point of the city's arts precinct, incorporating the Australian Ballet, Melbourne Symphony, NGV International, the Arts Centre, Hamer Hall and Malthouse Theatre. On Sundays, the Arts Centre Market is held along the footways at the eastern end of the riverbank. The two Arts Centre buildings at the start of the St Kilda Road boulevard, are Melbourne's main arts, music and theatre complex. Beneath its 162 metre spire that is lit up at night, are three theatres: State Theatre, Playbox Theatre and the George Fairfax Studio. Hamer Hall (previously Melbourne Concert Hall) is situated in the complex's second building.

Cost: free admission. Charges may apply for temporary exhibitions.
Location: St Kilda Rd, Melbourne near the Southbank precinct.
Getting There: walk south over the Princess Bridge or the pedestrian footbridge across the Yarra River. By train, travel to Flinders Street Station, then walk across the Princess Bridge or pedestrian footbridge.

National Gallery of Victoria International

National Gallery of Victoria International is one of two Victorian public art galleries within the one arts precinct. Over the last 150 years the National Gallery of Victoria has established one of the world’s finest art collections. With Australian Art moving to Federation Square (The Ian Potter Centre) and the transformation of National Gallery of Victoria International on St Kilda Road, housing for collections and exhibition space will double in size. Since the Gallery opened in St Kilda Road in 1968, the total collection has doubled in size to more than 60,000 works of art.

Cost: Free admission.  Charges may apply for temporary exhibitions.
Hours: Open 10am-5pm daily, Closed Tuesdays except public holidays
Contact: (03) 8620 2222. Website
Location: 180 St Kilda Road, Southbank. 
Getting There: walk south along Swanston St across Princes Bridge to St Kilda Rd.

Cost: Free admission. Charges may apply for temporary exhibitions.
Location:  Como Park north, offshore from Alexandra Ave. 
Getting There: access is by private boat or organised tours only. No ferries service the island on a regular basis.

"Mischievous Bells", Melbourne International Arts Festival, 2009

Victorian Arts Centre

National Gallery of Victoria

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