News & Insights

We’re Still Here

Read Artistic Director Emily Sexton’s update on Arts House’s next steps.

When we closed our doors in March, we certainly didn’t realise it would be so long until we could open them again. And aside from those of us who live locally, it has been really strange and sad to be away from North Melbourne for so long. We miss this place, very much.

But we feel grateful to have been busy. Producing 99 new artworks for BLEED and creating a festival with a completely new range of tools gifted us that, and we’re chuffed to have those works still available to explore. A sincere thank you to the artists, writers, thinkers, producers and production teams who dedicatedly made the festival possible. We feel very proud to have created a beautiful corner of the internet that continues to offer reflective, provocative and inspired thinking about this time, the role of digital in our everyday lives and how art operates in response.

The recent months have also seen us continue developing ideas for Refuge, our five-year investigation of art, emergency and climate change. Refuge has always been a particularly potent area of work in our local community and as we prepare the final edition (now in 2021), we are thinking a lot about the legacy of this project, and the roles we can play in our community in North Melbourne, as part of Melbourne’s broader cultural recovery and indeed, across the country.

In many ways, the arts in Australia and around the world are experiencing a deep injury, and will need to undergo rehabilitation to recover. We are currently designing next year’s programs to be that rehabilitation site. To heal. To nurture. Our work will be part of a different city and a changed community – and sometimes, this will be for the better.

A particularly big change for Arts House is that we will not be presenting Dance Massive in March 2021. Dance Massive has been a hugely successful festival for ten years, and we’re exceptionally proud to have worked with Dancehouse and Malthouse Theatre over the past decade to present 118 contemporary Australian dance works to audiences of over 67,000.

With all the urgencies that 2020 has highlighted, we are taking the time to work with the dance community Co-Design to understand what the future of a dance festival in Melbourne should look like; what the next 10 years could bring. We are optimistic and excited about this work – find out more, and how you can get involved, here.

City of Melbourne Council Elections are taking place between 23 September and 24 October, and as a result we’ll be quiet on this site and our socials channels over that period. You can of course still contact us directly if you have questions, via artshouse@melbourne.vic.gov.au. And in late October, we’ll be announcing some new opportunities to get involved in our work – subscribe to our e-News.

Wherever you are, I hope it is peaceful. That you can see birds and that the seasonal change is helpful. If not, you could always swap with someone else.


Emily Sexton
Artistic Director
Arts House



Image: OVERTURE by Jo Lloyd. Photo by Bryony Jackson.