“Adventurous art lovers cherish the curated performance program at Arts House. It is replete with curious delights from around Australia and the world." – The Age
Who We Are
Arts House is Melbourne’s home for contemporary performance.
With a year-round program of dance, theatre, music, sound, new technologies and community projects, Arts House is one of the major forces shaping Melbourne’s cultural and social landscape. We cultivate diverse new audiences for independent artists’ ambitious new work, and we build relationships at both local and international levels.
This is a house where change happens. From the crisis of extinction to the rapid transformations of technology, we know that the futures of humanity and art are entwined. We want to be hopeful.
As part of Melbourne’s cultural landscape, Arts House expresses the deep forces that shape that terrain. Our programming pays respect to Traditional Owners and the land on which our work takes place, and reflects Australia’s ongoing history of migration and displacement.
Arts House also seeks to ask questions about power: who has the power to speak, and what is the power of listening? We explore new ways of distributing curatorial power, and commit to an artistic vision that is transparent and connected.
Arts House is a key project for the City of Melbourne, complementing programming at sister venues Artplay and SIGNAL, at the city’s First Nations festival YIRRAMBOI and in our libraries and hubs.
Image: Aeon, Lz Dunn.
Photo by Bryony Jackson
Image at top: Trilogy, Nic Green. Photo by Bryony Jackson.
What We Do
What goes on in here falls into three areas: Research, Create and Present.
RESEARCH is our laboratory stream: artists conduct experiments and explore new ideas. The outcomes are open, and what matters is that artists have the freedom and confidence to go wherever their investigations lead them. They’re often surprising to everyone involved. Have a look at our Makeshift program to find out more.
CREATE is where ideas are transformed into practice. We run two streams, calling for new projects once a year. CultureLAB helps independent artists and companies fashion the strongest work they can with the best support available. These programs are the primary way that Arts House programs new work in our seasons, major projects and festivals.
PRESENT is how we share new contemporary art with the community. Our reach is broad, and we have a particular commitment to making sure that the people who walk through our doors are as diverse as the city itself. At the core of our work is partnership: we collaborate with individuals, festivals, co-commissioners and other groups both in and outside the arts world. Take a look at what’s coming up, and our major projects.
Image: 1234 (get on the dance floor) by Raina Peterson
Photo by Bryony Jackson
Our Artistic Vision
Arts House is where extraordinary artists make life-changing art, for overlapping communities. Our vision is a deep inquiry into:
History: programming at Arts House should reflect an accountability to Traditional Owners, with respect paid to the land on which our work takes place. We should also reflect Australia’s ongoing history of migration and displacement, and our responsibility towards diverse communities. Our architecture is colonial, a civic and political space of ongoing significance in North Melbourne. We commit to creating space and profile for these overlapping communities.
Power: the question of who speaks, to whom, drives our artistic and curatorial enquiries. We aspire to decentralise curatorial practice and commit to an artistic vision that is transparent, connected and adaptive.
Change: from the deeply embodied, to the crisis of extinction, to the role of technology, our programming is hopeful. It is committed to the idea that humanity and art are interlinked.
Community: we desire our space to hold meaning for multiple and overlapping communities, profiling artists as leaders and facilitators of connection.
It is our priority that Arts House is considered a porous, dynamic space where self-determination is felt, seen and enacted. Our artists are supported to grow their practice, connect with communities, have big conversations, adapt to new technologies and create and share ambitious contemporary art.
Arts House’s programming is led by an Artistic Director, in deep consultation with Arts House staff and three strands of facilitated community consultation:
Creative Advisory Group: The CAG meets 3 times each year, working with the Creative team on curatorial concerns and questions for contemporary arts programming. The group is appointed on a 2-year basis, via a public Expressions of Interest process.
Artist Peers: Our research and development programs are selected by the Creative team in consultation with a group of artist, curator and producer peers, with a different group engaged annually.
Co-Design: For special initiatives and projects, we adopt a community co-design approach. Our recent co-design work includes the development of our DIAP and The Warehouse Residency, and imagining a new dance festival in Melbourne.
Image: Refuge INASI 2019, Photo by Bryony Jackson
Partnership: between Arts House, our artists, our audiences and our partners we believe that collaboration relies upon mutually beneficial, meaningful relationships and drives success.
Adaptation: we listen, we consult and we build capacity to respond to a changing environmental, financial and social climate.
Plurality: we proactively seek and welcome intersectional, multi-versed communities into our programs and spaces through a commitment to devolved leadership structures and transparent decision making.
Deep Inquiry: we create the space for good work to take time and value the process of sharing different knowledges.
Connection: we believe a generous society is a confident one, where new encounters with new experiences and new people create an electricity that is sustaining.
“Set out from the very beginning of a project to articulate some environmental guiding principles with your team, so everyone understands that these considerations are tantamount to the art, or indeed, that an environmental thinking can co-exist with art-making.’
– Nicola Gunn, SANS HOTEL
At Arts House we are guided by a deep commitment to sustainability. We consider environmental impact in the creation, administration and delivery of every work you see within these walls and beyond. Over the course of many years we have adopted greener alternatives across the venue and promote sustainable thinking and action in all of our activities and business practices.
Meeting Our Vision
A milestone in Arts House’s shift toward sustainability was 2014’s Greenie-In-Residence Program, which saw Matt Wicking from Tipping Point spend time with us to facilitate a year-long program of workshops, consultation and networking events based on greening the arts. Since then there have been ongoing initiatives to maintain a focus on our role within a dynamic ecosystem, be it the compost kept very healthy by staff and Arts House artists, an edible garden on the Arts House terrace, or the care we take in our policies towards waste and recycling.
Some of the key sustainability initiatives visible to Arts House patrons include:
• A paperless ticketing system
• Paper-free show programs, which can all be viewed online
Our latest Environmental Action Plan and the Global Goals
Arts House has committed to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which provide a roadmap to address the world’s most pressing challenges by 2030, including climate change, inequality and education. This commitment is reflected in our Sustainability Action Plan, which supports global efforts to safeguard our natural environment.
For more information on Arts House’s approach to sustainability, read our plan or get in touch. We’d love to chat.
City of Melbourne Green Our City Strategic Action Plan 2017–2021
City of Melbourne Climate Change Mitigation Strategy to 2050
City Of Melbourne Emissions Reduction Plan
Arts House is located in North Melbourne, on the lands of the Wurundjeri people of the Eastern Kulin nation. North Melbourne Town Hall was built in 1876, and repurposed for its current use as a contemporary arts space after a long campaign from key leaders in the North Melbourne community.
Image: Imagine, Josh Muir 2020
Photo by Bryony Jackson
North Melbourne Town Hall
521 Queensberry Street
North Melbourne VIC 3051
Phone (03) 9322 3720
Text (if required) 0447 570 178
Arts House Box Office is open from 60 minutes prior to performances.
(03) 9322 3720
Contact the box office via email
To contact Arts House staff, please call or email reception on:
(03) 9322 3720
Contact us via email
(+61) 411 029 393
Email Ben for all media enquiries
Work with us
Careers at Arts House please check the City of Melbourne careers page.
Casual Front of House and Production roles are managed through Auspicious Arts. Please send your resume to Artshouse@melbourne.vic.gov.au and we will contact you when positions become available.
Arts House and the City of Melbourne is committed to equity and inclusion. We strongly encourage d/Deaf and Disabled, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, LGBTIQ+ and/or CALD people to get in touch.
Arts House Team
Manager Creative Programs (Acting)
Business Manager (Acting)
Business Support Officers
Marketing Manager (Part-Time)
Audience Engagement Coordinator (Acting)
Public Engagement and Front of House Operations Manager
Ticketing and House Supervisor
In addition to our core staff, we engage a range of advisory groups, contractors and casual staff to realise and deliver our work.
For the many ways these groups enrich what we do, we remain grateful.
Arts House is a key program for the City of Melbourne. Our program is made possible by the following government, academic, philanthropic and arts partners.
The Arts House program is assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its principal arts funding advisory body.