Events get creative in Melbourne’s arts precinct

arts precinct
The LUME Melbourne offers a stunning backdrop for events at the MCEC.

Melbourne’s Federation Square is returning to life after Covid. What does that mean for event planners? It means more opportunities to bring Melbourne’s creative arts culture into events and conferences thanks to its thriving arts precinct.

“Fed Square has already programmed several successful initiatives that have brought the crowds back into the city,” says ACMI’s Head of Commercial, Alison McCormack.

“Some of these fabulous events have included The Melbourne Fashion Festival, which featured a week of runway shows at ACMI along with a Festival Hub and bars set up in Fed Square.”

ACMI is a temple to all things film, TV, videogames and art. It also offers groups a diverse range of spaces  and venues to hold a variety of events from gala dinners and cocktail functions through to conferences.

arts precinct
ACMI can be used to host many types of events both large and small. (Photo Mark Chew)

Melbourne Fashion Festival in March saw a total of 5,300 guests over the course of the five evenings of runway shows held in ACMI’s Gallery 4.

“We also host a number of film festivals throughout the year that bring thousands of attendees into the building,” says McCormack.

“A whole building takeover allows for a capacity of roughly 1000 people, when all spaces are used.”

Conferences will often use the cinemas for plenary with the Swinburne Studio being used as trade and hospitality areas.

“Private and corporate events will use Swinburne Studio for the dining component of their day/evening and then we have the fantastic opportunity to attach a private showing of either our permanent exhibition The Story of the Moving Image or a paid exhibition like Light: Works from Tate’s Collection (16 June to 13 Nov 2022), outside of museum opening hours. We can create amazing experiences,” says McCormack.

arts precinct
ACMI’s catering is handled by award-winning chef Karen Martini’s Hospitality M.

“We can also use the outdoor dining space at ACMI’s onsite restaurant Hero, which has a lovely outdoor seating area. In addition, our external landings are licensed for events and functions so these can spill into the outdoor spaces.”

Hero was founded by award-winning chef and restaurateur Karen Martini and seasoned hospitality professional Michael Gebran, who together also oversee the events menu under the Hospitality M banner.

The ethos is local and sustainable, and the end result is beautiful and delicious.

Just across the bridge is the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), the jewel in the crown of Melbourne’s arts precinct. Home to an extraordinary number of diverse artworks the building itself it somewhat of a visual arts experience in itself.

It also has a collection of stunning event spaces on offer.

“The NGV International building, designed by Sir Roy Grounds and built in 1968, is a unique and visually breathtaking backdrop for a range of events and programs, whether it be situated amongst the iconic collection of international art in the Salon Gallery, or underneath Leonard French’s cut-glass ceiling in The Great Hall,” says Annabel Sullivan, CEO of Cultural Attractions of Australia, which brings together 18 cultural attractions that celebrate Australia’s diverse ethnic, historic, cultural and sporting influences.

arts precinct
An exclusive dinner at NGV International by Cultural Attractions of Australia.

“There is something quite remarkable about the opportunity to hold an exclusive event after hours with private access to world class exhibitions in the NGV, Australia’s oldest and most visited gallery,” says Sullivan.

“The Gallery is a welcoming space and offers the business events sector an inspiring environment to gather, learn and partake in joyful and enriching experiences, as well as an opportunity to incorporate one of the most significant collections of art and design in the region, and the largest in Australia into their program.

“The NGV offers unique venue meeting spaces suitable for corporate dinners, training seminars, conference groups.  NGV’s ever changing program of major exhibitions for private viewings is an ideal way to leverage any corporate event and create memorable event experiences.”

The NGV currently spans across two venues, NGV International and The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia at Fed Square. The Fox: NGV Contemporary, once completed, will form the third site for the organisation.

Sullivan says hosting an event surrounded by art can have lasting effects beyond the event itself.

arts precinct
NGV International has a diverse range of exhibitions and art on show.

“Art moves people and offers them an opportunity to learn and engage,” she says.

“It can spark curiosity, make people feel connected, inspired, fulfilled and motivated. The immersive nature of viewing and experiencing art can stay with visitors long after they leave the gallery space.”

Within walking distance to Melbourne’s arts precinct, the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre also offers its own exclusive immersion into the world of art with THE LUME Melbourne.

The LUME explores the life and works of Vincent van Gogh by reimagining of 3,000 paintings, sketches, letters, photos and floral works in an extraordinary multi-sensory experience.

THE LUME also offers event planners an opportunity to turn some of the most famous works of art into a sensory back drop for a variety of events from networking breakfasts and gala dinners to cocktail parties.

“THE LUME is another way MCEC is using our space in unconventional ways, to ensure we keep innovating, evolving and making an impact where it counts,” says Peter King, MCEC’s CEO.