Rising festival closes after one day as Melbourne enters lockdown

The inaugural arts festival Rising has closed after just one day with Melbourne plunged into a new seven day lockdown.

The winter arts festival remained cautiously optimistic when it opened on Wednesday, but organisers were forced to pause it yesterday after a ban on gatherings. The festival is due to run until June 6 and has committed to issuing refunds for all tickets for events up until June 4.

The festival program included 113 events and public art installations featuring 800 artists, mainly from Victoria.

“A decision in relation to events scheduled between 4 June and 6 June will be made over the coming week,” the festival organisers said.

Rising has been beset with bad timing after initially cancelling its planned debut last year due to the pandemic.

Rising co-directors Hannah Fox and Gideon Obarzanek said they had been “preparing for every eventuality” but were nonetheless devastated by the latest announcement.

“While today’s developments are devastating, we are buoyed by the sheer resilience of the staff and artists involved with Rising,” they said in a statement.

“Together they have created something that spoke to Melbourne; something beautiful and beguiling; something that would have reawakened our city. Together, they created something extraordinary, for extraordinary times. We could not be prouder.”

Fox said they would evaluate what their next step was without “making any knee-jerk decision”.

“It’s a large and complex event and our major priority is making sure that all our artists and staff are safe,” she said.

“So we’re pressing pause, and we’ll regroup after that and figure out what’s happening.”

The latest lockdown has also forced the Ballarat Heritage Festival to cancel its last weekend.