Across 125 events in 70 different spaces and venues, Midsumma Festival 2017 has been hailed as one of the most inclusive, a testament to its forward-looking position in the year that celebrates Midsumma’s 30th festival.
Midsumma Carnival was big, bold and bright and hosted more community organisations than ever before, with 150 different stalls representing them on the day. The entertainment was fabulous including the cast of Kinky Boots and many sneak peeks of festival events, all hosted by effervescent improv duo The Sparrow Men and the fabulous Ms Dolly Diamond. A couple even became engaged on the Carnival Main Stage!
Midsumma Pride March was one not to be forgotten with its strong First Nations presence and the first smoking ceremony in Australia’s Pride march history. An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander group led the march; and 2017 hailed the introduction of a vigil performance at post-Pride March celebrations in Catani Gardens by Yorta Yorta soprano Deborah Cheetham AO. A youth initiative led by an estimated 400-strong Minus 18 team near the front of the Midsumma Pride March has also been widely praised for sending out the message to LGBTQIA youth that they are not alone.
2017 also saw the introduction of a new Signature event Midsumma Horizon, an arts-party at Testing Grounds on the final weekend. Co-curator Daniel Santangeli says: "Midsumma Horizon makes a loud statement that the future of queer arts is diverse in race, age, gender, sexuality and lived experience."
The three Midsumma Hubs were a great success at Arts Centre Melbourne, Gasworks Arts Park and the Hare Hole, with a myriad of sell-out events in each venue. In fact more than 20 events sold out across the overall festival program.
Midsumma also hosted a series of talks at the Midsumma Festival Barre, a program sure to be developed further in future years. Sat 28 Jan saw Midsumma panel discussion, 'Ramp Up, Camp Up! Queerness and Disability' and Sat 4 Feb the Midsumma panel discussion was, 'The Grand Trans Plan': what trans, gender-diverse people and our families want short and long term, and how to be an ally.
With four visual arts events, two theatre, one contemporary dance and one live music event, the Midsumma Premier Events program in 2017 was indeed an arts immersion. Highlights included a sell-out season of The Happy Prince at La Mama Theatre and significant media attention on the visual arts especially for #Dragformation and Beautiful Women.
Other highlights included the 21st birthday of the Same Sex Dance Sports and the amazing turnout at Team Melbourne’s LGBTQI+ Sports Festival, the single largest annual event of its kind in Australia which brings together LGBTIQ sporting and recreation clubs for the ultimate come-and-try day.
For the first time, Midsumma also announced Midsumma Futures, a year-long mentoring program which partners established culture-makers with early career practitioners that is planned to commence in mid-2017. For 2017 this was supported by new partner Stomping Ground Brewery who created a special peach beer for Midsumma called PRIDElweiss, of which $0.50c per pot was donated to Midsumma Futures, with more than $8000 raised.
To top it all off, the Midsumma Festival Program Guide was made fully accessible and there were 30 events, speeches and talks that were Auslan Interpreted in 2017.