hillsceneLIVE is an arts program supporting emerging and experimental artists. We aim to create new modes of thought, practice, engagement and participation through the support of bold, brave artists.
As a festival, we are dedicated to supporting artists who take juicy risks, ask big questions, and make bold statements with their work. We traditionally support live art and performance, which covers Theatre, Dance, Sound Art, Comedy, Cabaret, Spoken Word, Live Art and especially those works that don't fit easily into these categories!
hillsceneLIVE is the only program of its kind in the Dandenong Ranges, which fringes onto regional Victoria. It is the only program that brings together artist of diverse practices, in a supportive and developmental capacity. Through the program dozens of artists have been supported to create new work, ask new questions (of themselves and the world), and forge partnerships with other artists, makers and the community.
Where we have come from...
2014. We emerged! Thanks to the genius of Gareth Hart. Hart secured funding from Creative Victoria to work with Burrinja to create a new creative project that became hillsceneLIVE. It was to be a celebration of the live art and performance created within the hills community. This first year saw three iterations of the event, starting as a 4hr mini festival held in Burrinja. The second event ambitiously took over the main street of Belgrave with multiple performance and installation art venues. The third event was in a venue hidden in the hills, in the Mt Burnett Observatory.
2015. You might call this our teenage years. The 2015 festival was ambitious, bold, and bigger than we could have imagined. It involved a four-month professional development series, bringing together thinkers, makers and do-ers from the Arts and Cultural Sector, it involved a series of networking events and shared studio practice, and we had a very juicy, ambitious one-day festival in Monbulk in a series of disused shops and their back yards..
Not one to stagnate, hillsceneLIVE aimed its sights even higher in 2016. We felt born. We felt it time to really solidify what we learnt through infancy and the rite-of-passage teenage years, and emerge as an adult with the conviction, intention and tenacity to make a difference! We exploded onto the scene in Mt Evelyn, transforming an unused office space into an extraordinary venue, housing vulnerability, dreaming, disruption and reflection. 2016's festival comprised a full series of Artist professional development, workshops and forums throughout the year, and the beautiful three day festival in October. We pushed ourselves, we grew and changed... learnt to become more vulnerable, more resourceful...
In 2017 we continued to shift and develop under the new leadership of Festival co-directors Justine Walsh and Toni Main. Refining, crystallising, and becoming more comfortable than ever with the unknown, the theme because we don't know what it is yet... was selected. The festival continued to expand, with a new partnership with Birdsland reserve, the building of a pizza oven that fed a free community dinner, and a very full weekend of events.
2018 saw a partnership with Creative Victoria, and new relationships with Deakin University and Fragment 31. We loved Birdsland as a venue, and felt it had so much more to offer so we stayed for another year. We extended the program into a 10 month artist development process that culminated in a 3 day live art festival - our biggest undertaking yet. The richness of the development program was incredible, like taking flightless baby birds and watching them saw into the air as beautifully colourful rosellas and intelligent sleek crows.
2019 saw us move to back to the other side of the mount, celebrating the rich natural landscape by presenting the festival at Karwarra Gardens. Our theme of Turbulent Lineages and Shifting Thresholds emboldened artists to push further and deeper into the uncomfortable spaces whilst nurturing their audiences. The festival was devastated by rain and even hail, but that didn't stop us from taking bold risks with our artforms.
And then everything changed in 2020 with the global pandemic. With Melbourne in lockdown for most of the year, and artists unable to connect and collaborate, we persevered all the same. Our 10 month development program was reduced to 6 months, and all of which facilitated online, and with no guarantee that we would be able to present the final outcome. In November, restrictions ease to a point where we could live stream the performances to the world from one location. After so long apart, we relished this incredible moment, and thanks to In Your Streams and extra funding from Yarra Ranges Council, we presented one of our most breathtaking hillsceneLIVE experiences yet.
2021 would have been the 10th iteration of hillsceneLIVE! Unfortunately the global pandemic did not allow for this...
Thank you to our partners...
We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land we live, work and play, the Wurundjeri and Boon Wurrung peoples of the Kulin Nations. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging, and acknowledge that sovereignty was never ceded.