An overview to Midsumma, year by year, between 1989 and 1999.
Since being launched by the Gay Business Association in 1988, Midsumma has grown to become Victoria's premier GLBTIQ arts and culture festival.
Click on a year of interest for an overview to that year.
1999 – Kiss The Future
Midsumma's inaugural public art program, 'Queer Street' was held around Melbourne's streets, and the Victorian Arts Centre spire was lit in pink. Mass Hang, the first community art show, debuted at Carnival and the NewQ Exhibition moved to the Linden Gallery, St Kilda. At the Victorian Arts Centre, a spectacular night of music was had with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Judi Connelli in cabaret. The first battle of the bands project (entitled BANNED) saw Melbourne's queer rockers play it out at this year's Festival Club. Club Swing's (City of Melbourne sponsored) Razor Baby was a spectacular dance performance. Ruby Lounge showcased the best of Midsumma artistes in splendour and style and the Festival Club offered emerging artistes a platform for short works. Literature continued to be a strength of the festival thanks mainly to the partnership with Hares and Hyenas Bookshops. The four major 'signature events' within the festival returned: Street Party in Commercial Road Prahran; ALSO's Red Raw fundraising Dance Party at the Docklands; the PRIDE march in St Kilda; and our finale-Carnival held at the Alexandra Gardens.
Tracey Wall was President this year, though Lee Matthews wrote the President's report.
1998 – Summa Mix – Celebrating Our 10th Festival
Midsumma extended over one month, Queer artists exhibited at NGV and Queer performers took over the Universal Theatre.
The inaugural New Q Exhibition of visual arts was held at the National Gallery of Victoria. The festival opened with the Fur Ball Gala at the Forum Theatre, the Australian Gaymes were staged and the Street Party was held in Commercial Road. The multitude of events included Pride March and Ride at Luna Park, ALSO's Red Raw Dance Party and the closing event, Carnival at the Alexandra Gardens.
Peter Edmondes was President this year.
1997 – Melbourne’s Gay and Lesbian Festival
The inaugural Midsumma / VAC Gala Fundraiser, Fur Ball, a high camp cabaret was held at the newly-restored Forum Theatre. 60,000 shindiged at the Brunswick Street Party; 7,000 rejoiced at Red Raw; 22,000 paraded at Pride, with a full house at Ride; and 100,000 caroused at the Carnival. 1997 saw the return of 'Software', a short works performing arts program.
Claire Beckwith was President this year.
1996 – Melbourne’s Gay and Lesbian Festival
After four talented gay presidents, the eighth festival was headed by a lesbian. In the tradition of similar queer celebrations around the world, Melbourne staged the first Pride march in Fitzroy Street, which spilled into Ride at Luna Park. The 4-weekend festival included four signature events: the opening Brunswick Street Party, Red Raw, the inaugural Pride and Ride and the closing Carnival at Alexandra Gardens.
Claire Beckwith was President this year.
1995 – Melbourne’s Gay and Lesbian Festival
The opening party in Brunswick Street instantly turned into one of the festival's main attractions. The enormously popular Carnival outgrew the Albert Park Reserve site and descended on the Alexandra Gardens.
Brenton Geyer was President this year.
1994 – For Melbourne’s Lesbian and Gay Community
Midsumma ran for three weeks. Sponsors were VAC/GMHC, ALSO, BrotherSister, MSO, JoyFM, 3CR, Bent TV, Hares & Hyenas and many others. The program presented Software VI, Gladboat, a travel forum and Leather Pride.
We're currently trying to locate a copy of the 1994 Midsumma Festival guide.
Two far-reaching innovations were made in 1992, the fourth festival: the lesbian community joined forces, and Picnic in the Park evolved into the Carnival, and exceeding all expectations, became the festival's premier event.
We're currently trying to locate a copy of the 1992 Midsumma Festival guide
Extended from ten to fourteen days of festivities, Midsumma consolidates its commitment to film, the performing and visual arts and literature. It receives Australia Council funding.
The festival was not without controversy though, with the ALSO Foundation organising events on the same dates as key Midsumma fundraising events, which caused key funding capital, and the main opportunity to fund the 1992 Festival, to dry up - a blow from which the Festival was lucky to recover.
The second festival broadened to meet the diverse interests of political, religious and business groups and received sponsorship from the Victorian Ministry for the Arts. A Lesbian festival was running concurrently. We're currently trying to locate a copy of the 1990 Midsumma Festival guide.
The 1990 Midsumma Chairperson was Ron Field.
1989 – The Inaugural Midsumma Festival
The inaugural festival ran over ten days and almost as many nights. Street Party, Sports carnival, Theatre, Cabaret and film festivals. A G&L studies conference; a history walk...there was something for everybody. There was even an awards night. The festival closed with Red Raw - a party in West Melbourne.
Having fun was only one of the goals. Communication, launching new groups, raising our profile in the wider world, even health education were touted as the festival's goals. All that was missing was the parade. Keen to avoid comparisons with the northern event, this had to wait till Pride March arrived in 1996.
The inaugural Midsumma Chairperson was Danny Vadasz.
We're currently trying to locate a copy of the 1989 Midsumma Festival guide.