The Annual Reports - Year by Year
At the end of each festival a report is typically generated. These days it's a formal annual report, but in the earlier days the reporting was a little haphazard.
Here are the reports, or summaries, that we've been able to unearth from our archives.
Once again, in 2021-22, Midsumma has shown itself to be a powerhouse of inclusive LGBTQIA+ arts, culture and innovation and has displayed an amazing resilience after 2½ years of COVID-19. After “Midsumma in Autumn” in 2021, a huge success in the COVID-19 circumstances, the latter half of that year brought further significant lockdowns and the arrival of the Omicron COVID variant threatened to derail preparations almost up to the final days before the festival. Nevertheless, and despite the cancellation or postponement of some events, the 2022 festival began with the return of the fabulous Midsumma Carnival. The festival proceeded with 153 events, 44% of which were free to participants. It was particularly pleasing to see an increase in attendance from our disability communities, with 30% of participants identified as having a disability. Midsumma was commissioned by the Victorian Government to produce the first Melbourne Pride celebration, a program to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Victoria. The addition of the ongoing Melbourne Pride project, now named Victoria's Pride due to its geographical expansion, means a significant expansion of the Midsumma organisation. Midsumma’s year-round programs continued, with Pathways concluding its first round, and the second round of participants being partnered with mentors. The success of the Pathways program has been seen in several commissions, including the design of the inaugural Richmond Football Club’s Pride Guernsey by artist Matthew Chan. Midsumma is currently embarking on a process of Board renewal, with six new members joining the Board, providing a more diverse membership in terms of gender, background and skillsets, which will bring even more breadth and focus to the Board’s vision and operations.
Download Midsumma Festival Annual Report 2021-22 [PDF 5.9 MB].
This year, the impact of ongoing COVID-19 restrictions and safety measures made many regular Midsumma Festival events impossible to activate for early 2021. In November 2020, when Midsumma would normally have announced the upcoming festival program, most venues remained closed as the Victorian roadmap for staged recovery had only just been released. With little or no ability to produce successful events in time for Midsumma Festival’s usual summer dates, the core arts festival took place from 19 April to 5 May (between Melbourne Comedy Festival and Yirramboi Festival), and Midsumma Pride March was held, for the first time, as a stand-alone event a few weeks later on Sunday 23 May. A few select Midsumma Present events that could meet COVID requirements at that time were still presented in February to mark our usual festival period, and one project had to me moved to July.
Although the primary festival is usually held in summer each year, Midsumma works year-round to provide artists, social-changers and culture-makers with support and tools to create, present and promote their work. Midsumma plays a vital role in the life of the many varied communities with which we regularly engage.
Download Midsumma Festival Annual Report 2020-21 [PDF 8.06 MB].
With the three-week festival finishing up for another successful year, audience figures for the 2020 Midsumma Festival came in at 261,806 attendances across a total of 194 events in more than 100 venues, which included over 5000 culture makers in Metropolitan Melbourne and wider Victoria.
Midsumma Festival had a successful kick-off at Midsumma Carnival, which saw attendances reach 117,000. That success was followed up with a record-breaking celebration of the 25th Anniversary of Pride March, having total participants in Midsumma Pride March at 10,607 (2,177 more than 2019) and total attendances for the event of 55,607.
“Midsumma continues to set benchmarks at the very forefront of queer arts culture nationally. We are thrilled that this year’s program hit new heights, growing in artistic depth and variation of the highest standard. With the largest number of events presented on record, highlights included repeated standing ovations, and sell-out performances whilst visual arts exhibitions showcased the vitality of contemporary queer ‘voices’ from across Australia.”- Karen Bryant, Midsumma Festival CEO.
Download Midsumma Festival Annual Report 2019-20 [pdf 7.3 MB] or flip through it online:
We welcomed 284,583 attendees to Midsumma Festival 2019, an increase of 54% in just two years. We celebrated 179 events across 70 venues over 23-days. It took 211 volunteers and 2,420 volunteer hours.
- 33% increase of Auslan interpreted or audio described events
- 44% Free events (over three years)
- 11% of artists culturally and linguistically diverse
- 67% returning audiences
Although the primary festival is held in summer each year, Midsumma works year-round to provide artists, social changers and culture-makers with support and tools to create, present and promote their work, with a local, national and international context.
Download complete report [pdf 7.3 MB]
The 2018 festival saw 40% more events than the previous year and an incredible 75% increase in audience numbers - more meaningful engagement with the community resulted in people seeing three events on average throughout the festival. The inaugural Midsumma Futures program was completed - a nine-month development and mentoring program for early-career artists and culture-makers.
At the end of this financial year Midsumma launched the inaugural Midsumma Pathways, a mentoring program for LGBTQIA+ artists living with disability. These mentoring programs will grow and develop the talent pool of future artists to ensure queer arts in Melbourne will be in strong, capable hands for generations to come.
John Caldwell was Chair this year and Karen Bryant was the CEO.
Cover image by Alexis Desaulniers-Lea.
Throughout the Festival we welcomed 184,459 attendees to 125 events across 70 venues. A key focus was to increase diversity of our audiences and artists, by working to encourage underrepresented groups within the LGBTQIA+ communities to participate more than ever, to ensure that we remain a truly diverse festival well into the future.
Highlights included: a deeper engagement with our Indigenous communities and seeing indigenous youth and elders join together to lead Pride March for the very first time; extending the message of belonging to young people, which saw more than 400 young people loud and proud near the start of Pride March and in full force at Midsumma Carnival; twenty sold out seasons including The Happy Prince, QueerArse Trivia, Merman Dan, STIGMA and Dolly Diamond’s Blankety Bl*nks. A whopping 48% of events were free to attend!; and for the first year ever, the Midsumma Festival Barre was introduced and supported by Arts Centre Melbourne. The social hub was open every afternoon and evening throughout the festival with talks and entertainment programmed and we look forward to expanding on this successful initiative in 2018 and beyond.
The 29th Midsumma Festival was our biggest yet. With our highest number of partners signing and re-signing with Midsumma, the 2016 festival was punctuated with a record level of support and representation from over 21 organisations based here in Victoria.
After the launch of our 2015 – 2020 strategic plan with the clear vision to “inspire inclusion colourfully”, the hundreds of event producers, venue managers, artistic directors and event activation specialists who all contribute to Melbourne’s largest DGS (Diverse Gender and Sexuality) festival program have delivered across the board.
This year’s festival included three world and several Australian premier theatrical productions. We also saw our largest ever visual arts program with 28 separate exhibitions around greater Melbourne. As always – the social events calendar was full of parties, forums and annual club events.
Our major events continued to grow in both attendance and quality. 2016 also saw the inclusion of a new major event – the National Water Polo League Pride Cup. The first top 10 elite sport in Australia to declare an annual Pride Cup round for both their men’s and women’s teams.
Download complete report [pdf 8.2MB]
The 28th Midsumma Festival was true to its theme: Making Connections – connecting the diverse gender and sexuality "DGS" community with our partners, the media and the broader Victorian community.
The striking cover image was developed specifically in response to this theme by artist Santtu Mustonen who is a Finish illustrator based in New York. His work is inspired by organic patterns and movement.
A year of consolidation – Midsumma Festival 2015 focused on building on the success of 2014 with hugely attended major events, a diverse and innovative arts program and a record number of social and community events.
Engagement with the community continues to be a priority for Midsumma with a range of community consultation exercises conducted throughout the year to aid the development of our 2015 – 2020 Strategic Plan and festival programming.
Feedback from the community has been overwhelmingly positive with audiences continuing to grow.
Download complete report [pdf 3.8MB]
Midsumma 2010 was another great festival. I'd like to firstly acknowledge and thank the team of volunteers that made it great. Midsumma, unlike most arts and cultural festivals is not only reliant on a strong and committed volunteer base, but is created and shaped by volunteers within the queer community. This year's life member nomination, Alan Drummond is a fantastic example of a person whose contribution to the running of the festival is impossible to quantify. He works all year round and amongst other activities he created and now edits a high quality regular communication that connects Midsumma to the community. To all the board members that volunteer their time and ideas: sincere thanks and appreciation. To the Midsumma performance hubs and venues thanks for making Midsumma great and accessible to people Melbourne wide.
To every person who participated in working groups, collected donations, looked after galleries, sold tickets to shows and a thousand other jobs, performed, created, produced and made it happen you are Midsumma!
Many of the improvements implemented in the previous year were capitalised on in 2010, including some core systems like ticketing, web and registration processes. Also we had a number of partnerships that were in their second year and as a result were able to leverage these partnerships more effectively. In particular, Evolution, JOY 94.9, The Market Hotel and The Greyhound. It was great to work together in 2010.
2010 was also the second year of the services agreement the board put in place with Adam Lowe Group. The contract and the professional approach of ALG has allowed Midsumma to improve its operating plan and improve the level of efficiency in delivering the festival. It also allows the board to fulfil it's obligations of governance and risk management. The board would like to thank the entire ALG team, and in particular thank Molly Whelan for the terrific contribution she made over the past five festivals. At the same time the appointment of Cara Dinley as associate producer is an exciting one for the coming festival.
It's very pleasing to have delivered a surplus again in 2010 and the strong fiscal controls and oversight is one of the objectives that the Board is committed to continuing in the future.
There's room for improvement and we have plans this year in place to do better in reaching out to patrons and members, to find ways to access the skills and talents of the community in the lead up to the festival, to improve our contract and payment process particularly with visual arts and to make sure we deliver on the highest quality guide for our festival. With Cara driving these activities, we're optimistic we can keep getting stronger in these areas.
I'd like to acknowledge the on going support of our long term partners, in particular our government partners City of Melbourne, Arts Victoria, Tourism Victoria, and the City of Yarra. We've also been able to receive some very generous donations from patrons that have funded key events that could not happen without their support.
The support and collaboration from IBM our volunteer sponsor has again been magnificent. It's developed into an integrated, organic relationship that provides real value and a friendship that betters the two organisations and the queer community. Other key partners include Virgin Blue who help us with travel options and Art Series Hotel for providing beautiful accommodation for some of our artists. We are grateful for your support.
Thanks to everyone who came along in 2010 and we look forward to another great Midsumma celebration of queer culture in 2011.
Midsumma 2009 was successful. For the board and the Midsumma team that's measured by delivering on what we set out to achieve; a vibrant and sustainable festival program produced by the community, comprehensive accurate festival guide on the streets, an easy - to - use and updated daily web site, with informative Midsumma email newsletters throughout the year, the capacity for people to buy tickets online and in venues via an online ticketing platform implementation, a new logo, a visual arts program and a large community celebration at Carnival. Importantly we needed to do all this with a surplus of funds at the end!
The opening celebration of the festival at Alexandra Gardens was excellent this year, due in part to some exceptional (for Melbourne!) weather. The perfect temperature assisted in getting very high attendances throughout the day. We programmed performances on one stage and this worked well in reducing the infrastructure complexity and cost.
A partnership with the Market hotel to produce T Dance worked well and was designed to reduce the risk on the festival if numbers fell lower than budgeted. Rather than a license fee or similar we moved to a profit share arrangement. Fortunately the number of attendees to T Dance was higher than budgeted and both The Market and Midsumma were able to chalk up the event as a success.
Guide and Media
Midsumma entered an agreement with Evolution publishing to sell advertising, print and distribute the festival guide. The guide was high quality, and achieved all it's objectives in terms of accuracy, layout and design. It was excellent to have the MCV team responsible for selling advertising and managing these relationships the outsourced model is one we are certain offers a better outcome for the festival. The partnership allows us to deliver a high quality guide that doesn't expose us to cost /revenue drivers in the same way it would if we were working in house. In 2010 we'll improve on the distribution of the printed guide (we had anecdotal feedback that guides where hard to find in some locations and over supplied in others) and work to earlier deadlines.
The Visual Arts program was powerful and diverse, with strong work presented as part of Queer City, and the Yarra Arts and Destinations program in particular. Well done and thank you to Tim Bateson for managing the excellent program and thanks to all the artists who contributed to the shows.
In 2009 we were able to continue our work with the Midsumma Hubs. Apart from giving audiences a clear sense of where to go, the hubs allowed artists' work to be curated and presented in a highly professional and supported way. We'd like to acknowledge and thank Chapel off Chapel, Gasworks, The Glasshouse, and The Butterfly Club for making Midsumma such a success. We're excited to announce the Northcote Town Hall as a new Festival Hub, for the 2010 festival.
The Midsumma website platform we invested in 2008 was able to be kept fresh and the on-going content creation and editing of the site was done with great professionalism thanks in particular to member and volunteer, Alan Drummond.
Introducing online registration for stallholders at Carnival and for Community Event Producers reduced the workload of the staff and increased the level of information provided to audiences.
New Tag Line & Logo
In 2009 we designed a program that celebrated 21 years of Midsumma and adopted the new tag line Midsumma; Celebrating Queer Culture as an acknowledgment of the many bisexual, transgender and queer people who feel excluded by the G & L tag. This change actually generated only a little debate as a result perhaps it really was time!
The new corporate logo was designed by Hammer and Tong, who have created something the community received well and captures the essence of a collaborative community.
Midsumma implemented an online ticketing platform that ran smoothly. Apart from making it easier for audiences to plan and purchase tickets to all events, the organisation was able to have insight and data into sales of shows. A ticketing platform also reduced the risk of bad debt from registered events, which had been a hard to resolve issue for every past festival.
Part of the reason things have run so smoothly this year is the organisational structure we have put in place. In the past, funds have been allocated to hire staff such as a GM and production crew. Rather than do this, the Midsumma board has contracted the services of the Adam Lowe Group to manage the operational and production elements of the festival including all administration. Adam receives a fee and his staff work on Midsumma, and on other arts and cultural events and productions at other times during the year. This delivers Midsumma a more sustainable resource base at a lower rate and is
working very well for us as a model. It eradicates problems most festivals face in terms of corporate memory due to staff turn over and allows the board to focus on strategic issues rather than hiring and managing a large team of people directly. Adam and his team have been excellent and the board feels very fortunate that we've been able to secure the services of ALG.
The on-going support from our Government partners, City of Melbourne, City of Yarra, Arts Victoria, Tourism Victoria is magnificent and greatly supports Midsumma in delivering the high quality festival each year. To our corporate partner IBM thank you for your continued commitment to diversity, we look forward to great successes in 2010.
Thank you also to all the board, past and present staff in the office and to the members of the Programming, Marketing, Major Events and Visual Arts working groups, whose contribution of time and effort means so much to the delivery of this festival.
The 22nd festival will run between 17 January and 7 February 2010. Melbourne's annual festival celebrating queer culture, Midsumma, will again bring queer life to the city in 2010.
See you in 2010!
Download the 2009 Annual Report (pdf 1.4MB)
Midsumma 2008 was warmly embraced by Melbourne's GLBTI community, with an expanded selection of community and Midsumma produced events on offer. Melbourne experienced an influx of overseas and interstate participants here to compete and celebrate in the 1st Asia Pacific Outgames and there was a wide selection of parties, arts and cultural events for a diverse audience to attend. The program was almost literally bursting at the seams!
What Worked Well?
The change to use the Carnival back at the popular Alexandra Gardens as the opening celebration was accepted well by many, and although the decision to produce only one major event rather than two was made to reduce the cost base, it also had the additional benefit of allowing the Midsumma team, most of whom are over-worked volunteers, to have a more singular focus. We were able to have multi food vendors, and efficient access to food and drinks was returned to the hungry and the thirsty!
Jarrod Hughes, our recently departed GM did a great job in terms of visibility and community engagement. He was running hard and passionate about the delivery of new streams such as the Food and Wine program and was active in developing great relationships with our festival Hubs.
The number of event options for people was prolific and wide ranging! There really was something for everyone and new additions such as the interactive art party "pARTy" and the season of new 10 minute plays, Pink Shorts was inspiring.
The Visual Arts program was strong and diverse, with powerful work presented as part of Queer City and the Yarra Arts program in particular. The introduction of Queer UNIverse for students expanded the participation of the community. Various Literature Events & Discussion Forums were also well attended.
Having designated Hubs for events gave audiences a clear sense of where to go, and contained the large program to a few great spaces. We'd like to acknowledge and thank Chapel off Chapel, Gasworks, The Artery, The Glasshouse and The Butterfly Club for making Midsumma such a success.
The new web site platform was easier to update and keep fresh and the entire migration of content and on-going editing of the site was done with great professionalism - thanks in particular to member and volunteer, Alan Drummond.
The board was very cohesive and hands on. We worked well together and there was a great injection of new talent from Adelaide's Feast with Kylie Bartel, Sam Jacob and Dean Hamood.
The 2008 theme, brand design and the consistent way it was presented was excellent, Omega working with Raft Communications did a great job in building a highly recognised brand for the festival.
The on-going support from our Government partners, City of Melbourne, City of Yarra, Arts Victoria and Tourism Victoria is magnificent and keeps Midsumma able to deliver the high quality festival each year.
What Didn't Work Well?
In kind and partner sponsorship for events was great - Simon Patterson did an excellent job putting deals together and managing relationships. Managing past sponsors and getting new ones however were under resourced. In fact since sponsorship has been "in house" Midsumma has not performed well in this area. Last year our media partner Bnews sold guide advertising and did a good job. In 2009 we're exploring a similar outsourced approach for sponsorship.
The rain at Carnival meant we had fewer donations at the gates. Fortunately we had already created a lower cost base Carnival, as ideally we were aiming to make up for last year's deficit. The rain also kept T dance patrons at a lower number than we'd hoped for.
Not having a dedicated publicist caused some pain points for registered events and office staff that relied on professional assistance in getting the word out about shows and events. The media coverage was actually quite comprehensive, but we intend to allocate funds for a publicist in 2009.
Some of the more party orientated events were light on in numbers or in some cases cancelled due to poor pre event ticket sales. This created a good debate about what the GLBTI audience want during a festival, and what kind of events are already being provided by venues and party producers year round.
SummaClub was our attempt to increase membership via a new member benefits program. It was time consuming and took enormous effort, thanks to Omega for taking it on. We've decided to go back to a more straight forward membership drive in 2009.
What Was Hard to Bear?
The loss of Zoe Belle just as the 2008 festival opened was a shock to many in the Midsumma community. Zoe was a fantastic and passionate contributor to the festival and we still can't believe she's gone.
What We Want in 2009
Tim Dart, our outgoing Treasurer was pro active and hands on. The role of Treasurer is huge, and we're grateful to have secured an experienced and capable Treasurer in Dean this year. Some of the improvement in reporting that Tim started is now in full project mode, with Dean and Adam reviewing all the current processes and accounting methodology to ensure we get better data to make decisions with.
Securing the services of Adam Lowe in the role of GM for the festival has been terrific. His attention to detail, calm and methodical approach is just what we need in a year of consolidation and review as we ensure we stay financially secure.
A closer connection with Pride March, we're hopeful that we can collaborate more closely with Pride and continue to share resources.
Last year, with Ronit's ticketing expertise we introduced the Sabo platform. This year if possible, we'd like to extend the ticketing system to allow all registered events access to use it and make buying tickets to Midsumma events very simple and fast with all events having 100% online options.
In 2009 we'll design a program that celebrates 21 years of Midsumma - it's our coming out! We'll adopt the new tag line "Midsumma; Celebrating Queer Culture" as an acknowledgment of the many bisexual and transsexual people who feel excluded by the G & L tag. Many people aren't comfortable with Queer as a phrase either, so we're expecting some good debate as a result - even amongst our own Midsumma board and team! Thank you also to all the board, past and present, the staff in the office and to the members of the Programming, Marketing, Major Events and Visual Arts working groups, whose contribution of time and effort means so much to the delivery of this festival.
Midsumma 2007 was well received by Melbourne's gay and lesbian communities, and there has been consistently encouraging feedback about the quality of events and program.
The Festival's 'book-end' events, Opening Night and Carnival, were of exceptional calibre this year, thanks to the quality of their respective venues, the programming teams and the continued support of the community, who turned out in force.
The 2007 program was busting at the seams with over 110 queers arts, cultural and community events. Program highlights included iOTA and the Beauty Queens (Opening Night), The Tonight Show with Wes Snelling at BMW Edge (Opening Night), the solo exhibition of one of Australia's most innovative and influential queer artists Juan Davila at the National Gallery of Victoria, the Union House Theatre co-production of Rage Boy at the Malthouse Theatre, Novel Conversations IV, We Built This Rainbow City at ArtPlay and the Over & Out seniors photographic exhibition at Gasworks.
This year we also saw Gasworks Arts Park and The Butterfly Club become Festival Hubs, offering an impressive and comprehensive local program of queer comedy, cabaret, performance art and exhibitions. We extend our sincere thanks to Crusader and his team from Gasworks and to David, Neville and the boys from The Butterfly Club for their passionate contribution to Festival.
Midsumma's visual arts program also remains strong with City of Melbourne, 'Queer City' and City of Yarra's 'Yarra Arts' programs continuing to impress with innovative displays of diverse artistic practice.
I take this opportunity to also thank the many hundreds of volunteers, artists, performers, producers, directors and community groups who delivered an ever-impressive program of community produced events. It is through these exhibitions, performances and events that the talent, diversity and true depth of culture within our community are showcased. This is truly your Festival.
Of course, there was also time for revelry, with Zinc Sunset Party, Summa Cruise and T-Dance offering unique party experiences for those whose art is made on the dance floor.
Overwhelmingly, the response from the community this year has been as strong or stronger than at any time in the past, and we look forward to making Midsumma events bigger and better for our 20th year in 2008.
A team effort
Vision does not happen in a vacuum, and Midsumma continues to enjoy and benefit from the challenging discussion and dialogue we have with the many elements of Melbourne's GLBTI community who are the constituents of the Festival.
Public partners are also vital to Midsumma. The 2007 Festival represented the second of three years in which Midsumma is funded under triennial relationship with City of Melbourne. Anyone who witnessed the warmth and affection with which City of Melbourne was represented at Midsumma events by Lord Mayor John So, Deputy Lord Mayor Gary Singer, their Council colleagues and staff, saw how strong the partnership has become. We look forward to a continuing vitality in our contribution to the City of Melbourne's arts and major events program.
We are also greatly indebted to the Cities of Yarra and Port Phillip for their ongoing support. These councils reflect the vibrancy of their local queer communities and remain a critical part of Midsumma's strategy to stay connected to local scenes, local venues and local personalities. We are also delighted to confirm the commencement of triennial funding with the City of Yarra in 2007.
The Festival's other financial supporters were again an important part of the Festival's operations. We greatly value these continued and new relationships, We extend of sincere thanks to:
Through our co-operative marketing arrangement with Tourism Victoria, the festival has enjoyed considerable success in attracting visitors to Melbourne. This year, we conducted research to profile visitors, their experience of Midsumma and the economic contribution they made to Victoria in the process. While the final results are being collated, the preliminary data indicates a thriving market of inbound visitors who see Midsumma as an exciting travel destination.
With regard to the Festival's staffing, there has been a deal of turnover this year, as well as members of the Board who are retiring at this meeting. In part the turnover of sales and sponsorship staff is a reflection of the more challenging environment all festivals are faced with, as media spend fragments and corporate sponsorship becomes more difficult to secure. This is an area of renewed board focus for the 2008 festival.
I take this opportunity to thank Jarrod Hughes, our outstanding General Manager. Since his appointment in September 2006, Jarrod has made a wonderful contribution to the Festival and has quickly demonstrated his commitment to quality outcomes. Jarrod has been particularly valuable to Midsumma through his intimate knowledge of our complex and sometimes challenging stakeholder environment, and his focus on this area is already bearing fruit in terms of the quality of our relationships.
The extended Midsumma team - office staff, Festival-time contractors and community volunteers - have been the Festival's greatest asset this year and I take this opportunity to thank them on behalf of the Board and the Members for their hard work, commitment, capability and generosity of spirit.
I would also like to thank Midsumma's Patrons, whose generous contributions make our lives much brighter. The Board will be focusing future efforts to show our appreciation of our Patrons support.
You will find following the Festival's Financial Statements for the year ended 31 March 2007. The bottom line is that Midsumma posts a loss this year of $39,419.00.
We are, of course, disappointed by this result. While a Festival's outcomes are determined by a wide array of controllable and uncontrollable factors, I would specifically draw your attention to the following factors that contributed to the operations of the Festival in the past year:
- The turnover of sponsorship sales staff and the continuing difficulty of finding and retaining qualified, committed staff at the salary we offer
- Operational problems in the food and beverage arrangements at Carnival and the disappointing performance of the Festival's appointed service provider Artistic Catering meant that Carnival income - normally a strong performer in Midsumma's revenue mix, fell well short of what the Board had judged as a conservative projection
- Carnival cost blowouts associated with stage-3 water restrictions at Treasury Gardens and a number of unforeseeable regulatory burdens to do with the management of that event.
In responding to these challenges, your Board is developing strategies to address the impact on our costs and to prepare for such adverse conditions in the future immediate actions include:
- The decision to hold Carnival in Alexandra Gardens in 2008 with a reduced cost base
- The decision to hold Carnival on a Saturday (9 February 2008) rather than a Sunday, to minimise dilution of audience due to a traditional overlap with St Kilda Festival
- A review of sponsorship procurement arrangements, with a greater emphasis on both input from the General Manager and the interviewing of outsourced sponsorship agencies
- Aggressive and early sales activity to secure returning and new sponsors and Guide advertisers Preparation for a major review of Carnival catering arrangements
Through the success of previous festivals, Midsumma has sufficient cash reserves to cover the operating shortfall for the time being. The Board's commitment to prudent financial management, in the context of both difficult circumstances and the growing expectations of our community, is undiminished. The landscape of festivals within Victoria shows challenges in other audience markets, with other arts festivals posting losses in recent periods. A commitment to ensure the scale of various Midsumma produced events is appropriate for the tighter fiscal operating environment we face is given here this evening.
A personal thanks from me to my board colleagues this year - Amy Bagshaw, Vaughan Barker, Monique Schafter, Tim Dart, Sasha Cunningham, Marcus Keating, Ronit Fazekas, Danny Michell, Mark Hooke, David Lawson and Lisa Watts. The passion and commitment - not to mention hours - that they have offered this year is simultaneously humbling and inspiring, and it is a pleasure to work with people of such insight and good humour.
Thank you also to the members of the Programming, Marketing, Major Events and Visual Arts working groups, whose contribution of time and effort means so much to the delivery of this festival.
The renewed energy and enthusiasm of the Festival team is already palpable, and we look forward to a series of planning workshops over the next three months, both to prepare for our 20th anniversary in 2008 and to create our longer-term vision.
In the meantime, we will be focusing on our core strengths - program development, events, fundraising, marketing and sponsorship - with a renewed emphasis on listening to and being relevant to the community that gave birth to us.
Which brings me to my final thanks - to you - for being a Member of the Festival. The more members we have, and the more vocal and active they are, the better Midsumma will be. In taking the time to be part of the Midsumma family, you are proving that, and we are grateful.
Please mark Friday 18 January 2008 for Midsumma's Opening Night at Federation Square in your diaries now. See you there!
Midsumma 2006 was well received by Melbourne's gay and lesbian communities, and there has been consistently encouraging feedback about the quality of events and program.
The Festival's 'book-end' events, Opening Night and Carnival, were of 'best ever' calibre this year, thanks to the quality of their respective venues, the range of attractions of the program and the continued support of the community, who turned out in force.
Program highlights in 2006 included the sell-out seasons of Seriously, The Pet Shop Boys Reinterpreted at Chapel off Chapel and My Life as a Dyke at La Mama.
Midsumma's spoken word and writing program, including Novel Conversations, the short story competitions and writing workshops, again demonstrated the vibrancy of Melbourne's interest in queer writing.
The visual arts program, which this year included Liquid Aesthetics at Black Box and Girls on the Floor at Loop, again presented Midsumma audiences with evocative and thought-provoking work, whilst the Living Queer community cultural development project gave six new artists the chance to create evocative work of their own.
The quality of Midsumma is, as ever, reliant on the participation of our whole community, and I am pleased to report that the registered events program was this year among the largest ever.
Of course, there was also time for revelry, with Summa Cruise and T-Dance offering unique party experiences for those whose art is made on the dance floor.
Overwhelmingly, the response from the community this year has been as strong or stronger than at any time in the past, and we look forward to making Midsumma events bigger and better in 2007!
A team effort
Vision does not happen in a vacuum, and Midsumma continues to enjoy and benefit from the challenging discussion and dialogue we have with the many elements of Melbourne's GLBTI community who are the constituents of the Festival.
Public partners are vital to Midsumma. The 2006 Festival represented the first of three years in which Midsumma is funded under the new triennial relationship with City of Melbourne. Anyone who witnessed the warmth and affection with which City of Melbourne was represented at Midsumma events by Lord Mayor John So, Deputy Lord Mayor Gary Singer, their Council colleagues and staff saw how strong the partnership has become. We look forward to a continuing vitality in our contribution to the City of Melbourne's arts and major events program.
We are also greatly indebted to the Cities of Yarra, Stonnington and Port Phillip for their support of the 2006 festival. These councils - reflecting the vibrancy of their local queer communities - remain a critical part of Midsumma's strategy to stay connected to local scenes, local venues and local personalities.
The Festival's financial supporters - MyCareer, Federation Square, Barwick Estates Wines, Evolution Publishing and Gay.com - were again an important part of the Festival's operations, and we will be working hard to develop and augment the relationships that were established or continued with sponsors and Carnival stallholders this year.
Through our co-operative marketing arrangement with Tourism Victoria, the festival has enjoyed considerable success in attracting visitors to Melbourne. This year, we conducted research to profile visitors, their experience of Midsumma and the economic contribution they made to Victoria in the process. While the final results are being collated, the preliminary data indicates a thriving market of inbound visitors who see Midsumma as an exciting travel destination. Your board is obviously keen to develop our strengths in this area in future.
With regard to the Festival's staffing, there has been a deal of turnover this year, as well as members of the Board who are retiring at this meeting.
I take this opportunity to thank Sheah Sutton, our recently-departed General Manager, for her contribution through an exciting period in the Festival's history. Festival Manager Brenton Geyer will also be leaving us in the next couple of months after a period of nearly seven years, as will our part-time book-keeper Geoff Smith. On behalf of the Board, I wish them all well.
This month, we welcomed Paul Hanson to the newly-expanded role of Sponsorship & Development Manager. Paul is already making strong strides in pitching Midsumma's value as a way to reach gay and lesbian consumers.
I would also like to thank Midsumma's Patrons, whose generous contributions make our lives much brighter. The Board will be focusing future efforts on creating value for Patrons through special events and invitations.
Following this report you will find the Festival's Financial Statements for the year ended 31 March 2006. The final result is that Midsumma posts a loss for the year concluding 31 March 2006, to the amount ofÂ $26,636, of which the operating loss is $8,936 (the rest being abnormal items including redundancy payments, and late adjustments from the previous year's accounts).
The board has spent considerable time in considering this loss, coming as it does in the context of an otherwise very successful year for Midsumma. It is our view that the loss is aberrant, rather than representing a flaw in the Festival's operating model or controls.
Specifically, I would draw your attention to the following factors that contributed to the operations of the Festival in the past year:
- The termination of Midsumma's Principal Sponsorship agreement with GAL Home Loans, due to the sponsor's failure to make payments under the agreement
- The unexpected relocation of the Midsumma office from Fitzroy Town Hall to Abbotsford Convent, after the City of Yarra declined to renew our tenancy
- Greatly increased costs associated with Carnival's move to Treasury Gardens
- An altogether tough market for new sponsorship, with the Commonwealth Games overwhelming the sponsorship budgets of many organisations.
In facing these challenges, your Board was able to take some actions during the year to address these issues and to ameliorate their effect on the bottom line. The most relevant - and useful - of these have been:
- Successful negotiations with City of Melbourne to share the increased costs of Carnival
- The introduction of a $5 entry donation for Carnival, which was greeted in the community with encouraging empathy and response
- The conduct of a major staffing review, out of which was created the new role of Sponsorship & Development Manager mentioned above.
Through the success of previous festivals, Midsumma has sufficient cash reserves to cover the operating shortfall this year. The Board's commitment to prudent financial management, in the context of both difficult circumstances and the growing expectations of our community, is undiminished.
A personal thanks from me to my board colleagues - Ros Abercrombie, Craig Andrade, Dori Bicchierai, Sasha Cunningham, Kris Darmody, Mark Hooke, David Lawson, Kieran McGregor and Lisa Watts. The passion and commitment - not to mention hours - that they have offered this year is simultaneously humbling and inspiring, and it is a pleasure to work with people of such insight and good humour. I will miss the input of outgoing Board members Craig, Dori, Kris and Kieran. Their contribution, both in their specific domains and as 'generalists', has been outstanding.
Thank you also to the members of the Programming, Marketing, Major Events and Visual Arts working groups, whose contribution of time and effort means so much to the delivery of this festival.
At this meeting, we welcome five new Board members - Shane Anderson, Amy Bagshaw, Vaughn Barker, Timothy Dart, Marcus Keating and Monique Schafter.
The renewed energy and enthusiasm of the board is already palpable, and we look forward to a series of planning workshops over the next three months, both to prepare for the 2007 Festival and create our longer-term vision.
In the meantime, we will be focusing on our core strengths - program development, events, fundraising, marketing and sponsorship - with a renewed emphasis on listening to and being relevant to the community that gave birth to us.
Which brings me to my final thanks - to you - for being a Member of the Festival. The more members we have, and the more vocal and active they are, the better Midsumma will be. In taking the time to be part of Midsumma, you are proving that, and we are grateful.
Please mark Friday 19 January 2007 for Midsumma's Opening Night at Federation Square in your diaries now. See you there!
A Queer New World
A Queer New World kicked off with a second sensational Opening Night at Federation Square. The weather was superb and over 20,000 members and friends of the gay and lesbian communities descended on this magnificent cultural space for an expose of some of Melbourne's finest queer entertainers. Whether it was the cool surrounds of club cabaret, the sensation of Summa Diva II or the offer of whirlwind romance at Fastlove - the night provided something for all.
Midsumma could not be the rich and diverse festival it is without the contribution of its registered event holders. Midsumma was delighted to once again receive a wonderful array of registered events, and thanks each of the organisations, artists and performers who worked to contribute to this year's festival of A Queer New World.
Midsumma's Visual Arts program excelled with a showcase of challenging and exciting works across the municipal councils of Moreland and Yarra, together with the presentation of sensational public works in the centre of the City of Melbourne. Queerstreet led us on a meandering tour of Melbourne's most exciting inner city public spaces, offering Melburnian's from all walks of life, the chance to be exposed to and presented with a diverse range of new and provocative works. This year Midsumma premiered Transitions: Space and Perceptions at the Counihan Gallery, with nine artists presenting high quality works on the theme of fluidity, space and perception.
Midsumma's Spoken Word Program, hosted in the City of Yarra was once again a magnificent program. In its second year Novel Conversations was a huge success, selling out this time at Fitzroy's Night Cat - a bigger venue to hold the audience of this very popular event. Midsumma's short story competition generated a good number of entries, with finalists reciting their works at the Glasshouse Hotel. Melbourne Conversations at the Melbourne Town Hall was a thought provoking trip down memory lane.
A highlight of the Spoken Word Program and a Midsumma Premier Event was Noel Tovey in...Little Black Bastard. This performance was unforgettable, and audience members were moved through a myriad of emotion, privileged to be taken on a journey of this extraordinary man's life.
Chapel off Chapel hosted the Midsumma Festival's Cab Sav where cabaret legends Luke Gallagar, Kay Sera and Adrian Kirk presented a smorgasbord of music and comedy over 4 nights.
Once again, the Summa Cruise went off, this time making two voyages. Despite it being a chilly summer's day, partygoers were not discouraged and boarded the old Sydney ferry to enjoy a day and/or night on the bay.
Of course Midsumma culminated with Melbourne's biggest queer ghettogether, Carnival Day. Over 30,000 queer friends and families convened on Melbourne's most divine Alexandra Gardens for a day of queer celebration and laughs. Our 3-weeks of A Queer New World concluded with Midsumma's favourite, T-dance, where over 3000 gathered under flood lit Palms for the biggest T-dance ever.
Midsumma Office and Administration
This year significant changes were made to the Midsumma office structure and guide production procedure. Advertising sales and guide production was brought in-house, in an effort to generate an alternate stream of revenue through advertising sales, and maintain a good level of creative control in the guide production process. This was a successful move. Midsumma was also pleased to announce the appointment of Sheah Sutton as General Manager in October 2004. Sheah previously worked with Arts Victoria and has an extensive history working in arts administration. The appointment of a General Manager for the Festival is a significant step towards long term planning and program development of the Festival.
In January 2005 Midsumma was awarded tax deductibility status as a cultural organisation registered with the Department of Communications Information Technology and the Arts. This is a significant point in Midsumma's history as not only is the festival now recognised with the federal government as a legitimate cultural organisation, but also tax deductibility status opens doors to another source of funding, through support of Midsumma Patrons. The Patron Program was launched last month at an exclusive viewing of the Andy Warhol's Time Capsules at the NGV. The evening was a huge success and Midsumma already has 14 registered Patrons - we thank you all for your tremendous support.
The FY04/05 financial statements
I am pleased to note that the attached financial statements show a surplus for the financial year of $12,893. Over the past three years Midsumma has concentrated on securing the future of the festival in a climate where like festivals have experienced financial difficulty. The Midsumma Board of Management continues to operate a financially responsible festival.
Each year Midsumma faces rising administration and production costs. Midsumma must continue to create new ways to generate income to cover such rising costs, and present an accessible, fresh and innovative festival each year.
Thanks and recognition must go to the Midsumma Board of Management Glyn Cryer, Sasha Cunningham, Tim Hunter, Ros Abercrombie, Bohdan Abrat, Craig Andrade, Ray Arthur, Scott Campbell, Mark Hooke, Keiran McGregor, Darren Marsh and Kim Northmore - who worked hard all year to unite A Queer New World. Thankyou also to members of the Visual Arts, Programming, Major Events and Strategy working committees who contributed a great deal of time and effort to each of these areas. Recognition must go to Sheah Sutton, General Manager and Brenton Geyer, Festival Manager, both whom coordinated a brilliant festival. Thankyou to our bookkeeper Geoffrey Smith who continues to ensure that every pink penny coming through the office is accounted for.
We further thank our contracted production manager Geraldine Kirby, who worked tirelessly to secure and produce a brilliant Opening Night and Carnival Day. Finally a big thanks all our volunteers who gave up their time for Midsumma 2005. The festival could not succeed without the assistance of volunteers who generously offer their time and good spirit.
Midsumma has already started planning for 2006 and will be led by the capable and astute Glyn Cryer. Mark your diaries for Opening Night at Federation Square on Friday 20 January andkeep the diary open for the three weeks that follow.GoodbyeIt is with great sadness that Bohdan Abrat, Ray Arthur and Darren Marsh retire from the Midsumma Board this year. While they make room for newcomers they leave with a wealth of experience, knowledge and passion for the festival, which will be sadly missed.
Best wishes and see you again in 2006.
A season of Summa Lovin'
The celebrations began on a sultry Friday evening, when over 20,000 members and friends of the gay and lesbian communities descended on Melbourne's magnificent Federation Square for Midsumma's Opening Night party - the Summa Fling. From the flirting at Fastlove to the saucy scenes of Summa Diva, the evening went off with a bang and launched 3 wonderful weeks of queer art and celebration produced by and for the gay and lesbian communities.
Midsumma was delighted to receive a wonderful array of registered events, and thanks each of the organisations, artists and performers that worked to contribute to this year's festival of Summa Lovin. Old favourites such as Golden Stiletto Rally, My Life as a Dyke, Movies Under the Stars, Homme Fatale and Queer State of Origin were joined by some great new events - Out in Suburbia (Kingston Arts Centre), No, Really. I'm straight! (Michael Linder) and The Drag Kings of Aotearoa, New Zealand.
Midsumma's Visual Arts program excelled once again to showcase a range of challenging, innovative and inspiring works across the Cities of Melbourne, Moreland and Yarra. New Q Cubed took on a new dimension, presenting the dazzling installations of New Zealand based Mark Curtis, and locals Sally Richmond, Owen Leong, William Eicholtz and Stephen Gallagher. Queerstreet led us on a meandering tour of Melbourne's most exciting inner city public spaces, offering Melbournian's from all walks of life, the chance to be exposed to and presented with a diverse range of new and provocative works. A fabulous new addition, Chicks Arty Flicks at Loop delivered a new angle to Midsumma screening work by local and interstate female film makers.
The Spoken Word Program, hosted in the City of Yarra was a magnificent success. An intimate evening with some of Australia's hottest and newest authors in Novel Conversations was a sell out, and audience members were taken on an insightful journey into the thoughts, passions and inspirations of these brilliant minds. Midsumma's short story competition generated a good number entries, with finalists reciting their works on a steamy evening at the Glasshouse Hotel at Hot Summa Nights Readings. Chic Happens at the Builders Arms Hotel was another sell out event, with some of Melbourne's sassiest dyke writers taking to the stage.
International Guests, Staceyann Chin & Doria Roberts - Slam Rocks Femmes Fatale were an outstanding success. For one night only at Melbourne's Athenaeum Theatre, audience members were enthralled by the dynamic wisdom of Staceyann Chin, and the divine sounds (and sight) of Doria Roberts. For those who missed the show, both girls gave stunning and provocative performances to crowds at Carnival Day, mesmerising all once again. For the first time ever Midsumma toured to Sydney Mardi Gras presenting Slam Rocks Femmes Fatale at the Metro Theatre for one night only.
Chapel off Chapel hosted the Midsumma festival club Hey Fancy Pants where cabaret legends Luke Gallagher, Kay Sera and Adrian Kirk presented a smorgasbord of music and comedy every Friday and Saturday night. Another great privilege for Midsumma 2004, was the inclusion of a 4-day Drag King Festival culminating with a Drag King Extravaganza at Hi Fi Bar - a night that was not to be missed.
A new addition to our party calendar included the Summa Cruise, Midsumma's maiden voyage upon the Victoria Star. Over 300 partygoers boarded the old Sydney ferry, to enjoy a summer's day on the bay and all its afternoon delights!
Of course Midsumma culminated with Melbourne's biggest queer ghettogether, Carnival Day. An exciting new edition to the day included the City of Melbourne's Midsumma Arts and Produce Pavilion ("MAPP"), which brought all sorts of craft queens and kings out of the closet to produce an array of goodies for all to touch and taste. MAPP was a huge hit and a return favourite for next year - so get your baking trays out now in time for 2005!
In the spirit of Summa Lovin Midsumma joined with the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby to present Summa Vows 2004. Over 300 couples united together as an expression of celebration and demonstration, against parliament's failure to recognise our partnerships at law. Summa Vows set a Guiness Book World Record for the largest gay and lesbian mass commitment ceremony in the world.
And 3-weeks of Summa Lovin concluded with a Midsumma favourite - T-dance, where over 2000 gathered under flood lit Palms - the queerest reception in town!
The FY03/04 financial statements
I am pleased to note that the attached financial statements show a surplus for the financial year of $20,429. Over the past two years Midsumma has concentrated on securing the future of the festival in a climate where like festivals have experienced financial difficulty. The Midsumma Board of Management continues to operate a financially responsible festival.
Each year Midsumma faces rising administration and production costs. Midsumma must continue to create new ways to generate income to cover such rising costs, and present an accessible, fresh and innovative festival each year.
Thanks and recognition must go to the Midsumma Board of Management Glyn Cryer, Sasha Cunningham, Jeffrey Grad, Bohdan Abrat, Ray Arthur, Scott Campbell, Tim Hunter, Lee Matthews and Kim Northmore - who worked hard all year to bring together a wonderful festival full of Summa Lovin. Thankyou also to members of the Visual Arts, Programming and Strategy working committees who contributed a great deal of time and effort to each of these areas. Recognition must go to Brenton Geyer, Midsumma's Festival Manager who once again coordinated a brilliant festival. Brenton was assisted by Ros Abercombie who worked as Festival Assistant in the peak periods of the Festival - thanks to Ros, in particular for some hard yards put in for our International Guests. Thankyou to our bookkeeper Geoffrey Smith who continues to ensure that every pink penny coming through the office is accounted for.
We further thank our contracted production manager Geraldine Kirby, who worked tirelessly with the assistance of Kristi Walker and Tam Pay to secure and produce a brilliant Opening Night and Carnival Day.
Thanks to our contracted fundraisers who did a wonderful job of DOT and tattoo production and sales throughout the Festival. Money collected from DOTs is a core source of income for the Festival - and thank you to those who threw in your gold coin for the cause.
Finally a big thanks all our volunteers who gave up their time for Midsumma 2004. The festival could not succeed without the assistance of volunteers and special thanks must go to Bryan Henderson and Harry Walford who volunteered in the office all year.
Midsumma has already started planning for 2005, so mark your diaries for Opening Night - 21 January 2005. Midsumma 2005 will have you in a spin as we aim to present yet another festival full of inspiration, excitement and revelry in celebration of our wonderful queer world!
It is with great sadness that Bohdan Abrat, Lee Matthews and Jeffrey Grad resign from the Midsumma Board this year. While they make room for newcomers they leave with a wealth of experience, knowledge and passion for the festival which will be sadly missed. We are secured by the fact that they will not be far away with mobile phones switched on!
Best wishes and see you again in 2005.
President, Midsumma Festival Inc
President's Report: 2003
The Midsumma Festival in 2003 was indeed a SCREAMER!
This year our Signature Events continued to include Midsumma's Pool Party - on a hot and steamy Friday night, ALSO's Red Raw - on an equally hot and steamy night, Pride March - on a beautiful midsumma Sunday afternoon (with Midsumma's newest leggy drag queen "Dot" leading the way) a new-look Carnival in the Alexandra Gardens, complete with an appearance by the legendary US Comic, Joan Rivers and our festival finale, T-Dance featuring an outstanding live performance by the Androids accompanied by the Greyhound Hotel's 'Showbags' performing the hit song 'Doing it With Madonna".
In addition to our Signature Events there was also a wide array of art & culture and community events - starting with the Opening Night at Chapel Off Chapel where David Hansen sung like an angel.Â My personal thanks to him for making the trip down from Sydney and for the beautiful choice of arias - particularly Carl Vine's "Love Me Sweet".
Other highlights in 2003 included DT's Golden Stiletto Rally, all the gossip of over 150 years of queer life in Carlton, Fitzroy and Collingwood presented by the Australian Gay and Lesbian Archives and the return of the intrepid adventuress, Dr Gertrude Glossip, who lead an exploration of the queer life of those who call our Melbourne Zoo home. The Visual Arts Program brought us the beautiful large-scale sculptural jewellery works by Tim Horn as part of Midsumma's Queer Street and the extraordinary work of Peal Gillies at 200 Gertrude St. Our Black Box program once again provided a platform for the development of local emerging gay and lesbian theatre workers - Back to Back's "Porn Star" and YGLAM's "My Fishnet Singlet" were particular highlights. Indeed, the whole festival program, of nearly 100 events, went off without a hitch - it must have been due to the lovely prayers of the hundreds of people who attended the St Dorothy's Day Mass at St Agnes Church, Glenhuntly - an annual Midsumma event.
The "insurance issue"
However, for some weeks in November and December 2002 it did not seem as though we were being smiled on from above. Like some of our sibling festivals around the world and at home, unfortunately we experienced trying times. For Midsumma, the issue was very late notice in November 2002 that our public liability insurance premium had increased by 1500%. It was an enormous challenge to reduce the cost of the premium and to raise the necessary funds to cover the increase. And so, the "Save Midsumma" and "Midsumma Dots" campaigns were born.
As a result of the hard work of the Board and our many volunteers who sold "dots" we did save our community Festival. All but the traditional opening night Street Party went ahead and as such Midsumma cemented its place as constant on the proud global calendar of events that celebrate and rejoice in that which makes us who we are - our inherent personality and sexuality.
We could not have done it without the support of Melbourne's Gay & Lesbian Community. Also integral to our survival were our wonderful major sponsors, Ford and United Airlines and all of our other supporters; our Governmental partners, Tourism Victoria, the Victorian Arts Centre and the Cities of Melbourne, Yarra, Stonnington, Moreland and Port Phillip who supported us in so many ways.
The FY02/03 financial statements
In the face of the demise of other gay and lesbian festivals around the globe, this past year has very much been about securing Midsumma's future.
Accordingly, the accounts I am pleased to present show a surplus for the financial year of A$15,021. This is a significant improvement on the past two years ($1,208 and $1,093 respectively). It is a credit to the Board and its financial responsibility. It is a particular credit to the hard work of Lee Matthews, our Treasurer (amongst many other roles - is there nothing this guy can't do?).
As a result of the scare that the public liability issue caused and a reduction in revenue (including a 15% reduction in Grant Income) the Board was very mindful to ensure that expenditure was kept in check. In every area, administration, fundraising, marketing, sponsorship and events, Midsumma cut costs, but did not compromise on quality. Overall expenditure was reduced by $26%.
Significant improvements in the Balance Sheet have also occurred in the past year. In particular I note the 45% reduction in receivables which is a result of a more rigorous approach to debt management and collection. My thanks to Geoff our Bookkeeper for his terrier like approach.
Overall the current asset position of Midsumma has improved by 35%. We are now in a position where our asset to turnover ratio is within that which is recommended by the Arts Council. With this new-found measure of financial security, Midsumma is now in a position where it can look at expenditure on development which was once only a dream. However, this measure of financial security has been hard fought for and therefore the financial strictures and policies which have been put in place must be maintained.
After 7 years of attending monthly Board meetings (and countless others), this last year as President, I have decided to retire from the Midsumma Board. My decision is tinged with sadness; however, I will remain involved with Midsumma as a volunteer.
It has been an honour, privilege, but also an awesome responsibility to lead Midsumma. I thank the Midsumma members for that opportunity. I also thank my fellow Board Members - in particular my two Vice Presidents, Lena Cirillo and Kris Darmody. My very best wishes are extended to Kris as she takes over the Presidential reigns.
The professional relationship that necessarily develops between a Chairman and their CEO is crucial to the work and life of an organisation. Accordingly, I also want to pay a special tribute to Brenton Geyer, our Festival Manager. Thanks for a great year (and for the frocks). Finally, thank you to my long suffering partner in love and life, Brendan - you made a wonderful First Lady.
Midsumma President 2003
Volunteer Board of Management
In 2003 the Midsumma Performing Arts program was a celebration of innovative work that brought art and ideas to you at every level. We welcomed an exciting range of performing artists from diverse backgrounds and cultures who presented theatre in many different genres. They certainly put fire in my belly and stimulated the imagination of many. From contemporary theatre, physical theatre, music, comedy, drama and of course, our very large selection of cabaret works. What a marvellous selection there was.
Midsumma Festival has had a successful partnership with the Victorian Arts Centre Trust for the past three years, which has been a mutually rewarding one. This partnership gave Midsumma Festival the opportunity to present performing arts in one of the major cultural institutions in Australia. It also gave the Victorian Arts Centre the opportunity to again as part of their programming; present something different and be exposed to the Gay and Lesbian audience base in a way that was about support and encouragement. I would like to thank the Victorian Arts Centre to contributing to an innovative community festival.
QFUSION was a new curated program produced by Midsumma Festival which provided a platform for artistic expression which celebrated cultural diversity, was full of value and made up of four 20minute shows each week for two weeks. This was a one off opportunity that presented four shows led by three established companies and two independent artists. In 2003 Midsumma had no other program like it. All our artists in QFUSION seized the opportunity to present short works that were visually spectacular, uncomfortably confronting and thought provoking.
Midsumma was able to bring together these works; this would not have been possible without Midsumma's commitment to supporting and being an umbrella for new, emerging and established artists as they take there work one step further. This was an opportunity for emerging and new artists to present their work in a supported professional environment. We exposed established companies theatrical work to a broader audience that was different to their usual audience base for which lifted their profile in a different arena. Thank you to all the artists and production crew for their passion and commitment to the program.
Established theatre companies joined the QFUSION program including BacktoBack Theatre company, Polyglot Puppet Theatre and YGLAM a youth based theatre project. Two independent artists Kevin McGreal and Peter Elliot also contributed to this program.
The media coverage was positive and in a range of different areas including print and radio. There was interest from arts industry peers and other cultural institutions around Australia. This including the follow up film version of one of the QFUSION plays "Porn Star" appearing at Sydney's Queer Screen Mardi Gras Film Festival.
Midsumma 2003 saw the return of the NewQ exhibition, now in it's seventh year. For the second year running we were happy to be working once again with the wonderful Counihan Gallery and the tremendous staff [thanks to the City of Moreland]. An exciting opening night followed by a well attended run of the exhibition. New Q this year focused on the multi media works of four artists and is seen as a lead into a major digital media exhibition for Midsumma 2004.
A two venue opening event in the City of Yarra saw a crowd assemble, first at 69 Smith St gallery for the 'A Room of One's Own' exhibition then proceed to Gertrude Contemporary Art Spaces to launch the 'Cabinet'; work of Pearl Gillies. A comparison of first time exhibitors [at 69 Smith] to the widely acclaimed Gillies sculptural jewellery works in the 24 / 7 window show.
The final event on the Midsumma Visual Art calendar was the Queer Street launch within the City of Melbourne. Opening night saw 300 people being led through the inner city streets by a gaggle of drag queens. Starting at Melbourne Town Hall's new City Gallery where the exquisite glass works of Tim Horn hung next to portraits of the Queen from the City of Melbourne collection. The next stop on the grand tour was the Manchester Lane installations of Tim Craker, Heather Saltmarsh and Paul Wreakes - all using text and image to convey a powerful political message. The opening night ended at Platform exhibition space in deGraves St where textile artists Nicky Schonkala, Douglas McManus and Garry Conroy Cooper wove an autobiographical thread.
The Midsumma 2003 visual art program offered a diverse range of works catering to all aspects of 'our', and the greater, community. Positive feedback was received from every area of the program. Gallery directors, journalists, artists and the public inspired the Visual Art Committee to head into the 2004 festival with renewed enthusiasm and energy.
Visual Arts Director
The Festival continued to build on our excellent marketing reputation by again rolling out a strategic campaign that reinforced Midsumma as Melbourne's premier arts & community celebration.
The festival theme met the high standard of previous campaigns, producing an attractive, eye catching image that enabled viewers to connect with it on many different levels.
The festival guide was again considered one of the best produced in the industry.
The press continued to favourably cover the festival, with some 150 different articles appearing throughout the campaign. Arts coverage was regular and supportive in The Age, the Herald Sun and our local municipality based Leader Newspapers, while our media partners: MCV, Blue Magazine and JOY Melbourne went beyond the call of duty with coverage of all areas of the Festival. A special mention also of B.newS for their exhaustive coverage and Sydney Star Observer who made sure that all Sydney-siders knew where they should be in the middle of an Australian Summa.
Midsumma, in partnership with Tourism Victoria, continued to build on the Interstate reputation of the festival, while starting to branch out towards an International campaign. For the second year in a row, we sent festival delegates to participate in the annual Int'l Gay & Lesbian Tourism Symposium scheduled in West Hollywood after the 2002 festival and just recently in Miami South Beach for 2003.
The Midsumma Website, supported by Morpheum New Media, continued to grow as a reliable source of festival information out in cyberspace, with www.midsumma.org.au attracting 365,829 page hits in the month of January, and 7,505 sessions and 142,522 page hits after the Festival, in the month of February.
Marketing, Publications & IT Director
Our Big Day Out
Midsumma's Carnival was again the big bang at the end of three weeks of performance, music, art, sport, parties, tours and tournaments, thanks to the support of Melbourne's gay and lesbian community who ensured it's survive.
It's gratifying for all of us who worked on it, that despite our insurance difficulties this year, we were able to produce a Carnival, which many said, was the best they can remember.
Carnival can't happen without support and input from our stallholders, volunteers, sponsors, production staff and entertainers, and we thank them for sticking with us, and helping to produce a great day. With your help, we were able to deliver a Carnival, which belied its budget driven underpinnings, in a year when many similar events around the world didn't do so well.
We owe sincere thanks to all those who supported our efforts with our expanded dot program. Your generosity and willingness to support the festival was a real boost to those of us out there shaking buckets - you showed us that Melbourne really does value Midsumma.
Carnival is produced by a hard working team of volunteers who go to a lot of effort to ensure that it involves and represents a broad spectrum of Melbourne's gay and lesbian community, and we're already at work on Carnival 2004 to ensure that it continues to evolve and develop.
Midsumma's major events will be back next year, bigger and better than ever. See you in 2004!
2003 Major Events Director
President's Report: 2002
"We're over the Rainbow", the 14th annual Midsumma, delivered a record festival with increased community participation, greater artistic merit and convincing fiscal responsibility. The continued growth of the festival was balanced with a focus on quality events, and a search for relevance with new initiatives and a concerted effort to improve our already successful and enduring events.
Midsumma is the most significant and popular Gay and Lesbian event on the Melbourne calendar with planning for up to 250,000 participants at the last festival. This required new investment in the way we produced major events with new event procedures, upgraded Emergency Management Plans and a subsequent reward of a marked improvement to the way our events were delivered. Reinvigorating our participant experience and increased compliance will continue to be the focus for our upcoming large free public celebrations.
The strength of Midsumma's arts programme again generated greater audience numbers, greater critical acclaim and our first Arts Victoria support. New initiatives included large format billboards around the City, 'Occupy' at the Fitzroy Town Hall, 4 Play @ BlackBox, Movies under the Stars, The Fitzroy Bazaar, visiting New Zealand MP Georgina Beyer, the now annual Midsumma Reunion and a range of sporting events such as the Midsumma Fun Run. Midsumma invested into Team Melbourne as a community response to the Gay Games VI, and will work with other organised sports groups to take the largest Melbourne contingent ever to a Gay Games celebration.
Festival branding and recognition was dramatically improved with a new visual identity for 2002. With this emphasis came greater community awareness and increased media attention, with even more interest from reputable arts organisations wanting to participate in Midsumma. The successful return of My Life as a Dyke part 2 and the sell out performances of I should be so Lucky emphasised the value that registered events placed on being within the festival.
Despite a more challenging sponsorship and funding environment, Midsumma continued to attract and retain financial supporters. The generosity of our major sponsors, Ford, Telstra and United Airlines continued, along with a strengthening of support from local governments, City of Melbourne, City of Yarra, Stonnington City Council, City of Port Phillip and City of Moreland.Â New funding ideas paid dividends with the successful auctioning of a Ford Ka on e-bay and our community based raffle. However funding will continue to be an area of effort and innovation to support increased expectations from an ever widening and increasing community base.
Increasingly Midsumma will push for and invite more people to be involved in the festival. Increasingly our members and volunteers are involved within a broader range and more complex festival activities, from arts working groups, e-business, marketing and e-business initiatives to emergency management planning and office management procedures. The success of Midsumma has come from a community committed to celebrating our sexual diversity and in particular the input of my fellow board members, volunteers and staff.
2001 & 2002 Midsumma President
Midsumma 2002 was brought to you by:
Volunteer Board of Management
Angela Bailey: Visual Art
Nigel Higgins: President
Cath Borg: Carnival
Leigh Johns: Sport
Jen Bugeja: Volunteers
Stuart Kollmorgen: Tourism
Shirley Billing: Special Events
Lee Matthews: Marketing
Kenneth Cheng: Opening Night
Glenn Pannam: Treasurer
Lena Cirillo: Performing Arts (Vice President)
Addam Stobbs: Fundraising
Kristine Darmody: Secretary
Will Walton: Development
Brenton Geyer: Projects Manager
Andrea Rieniets: Festival Assistant
Jeffrey Grad: Festival Assistant
Samantha Jolley: Bookkeeper
Greg McIntyre: Festival Assistant
Corporate Manoeuvres: Major Event Production
Chris Perks Design: Graphic Designers
Communications Factory: Sponsor Agents
Morpheum New Media: Website Designers
Miranda Brown Publicity: Publicist
President's Report: 2001
In a year of Olympic performances Midsumma's first teenage year achieved outstanding success in community participation, cultural expression and financial responsibility. With our continued growth came new initiatives and innovation to ensure Midsumma Festival improved on its delivery of quality events for Melbourne's Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Pansexual community.
With more than 150,000 people attending Midsumma events within and around Melbourne the Festival continued a long time tradition of free quality public events located in the best possible venues and in a wide range of city and regional locations.
From the Victorian Arts Centre, the new Melbourne Museum, to laneways in the City, the backyards of Preston, the front beach at Lorne and to an arcade in Bendigo, the Festival reached out to an ever widening audience.
Beyond the challenge of larger audiences, there has been a corresponding effort to develop the quality of our events at world class standards. This extends from the events planning that goes into our large public events such as Street Party and Carnival, to the strongest yet creative delivery of literature, visual and performing arts programs. Community feedback and exit surveys are supporting our commitment to these quality events.
A further commitment to office infrastructure was made with two full time staff employed plus a part time business manager. With these extra resources Midsumma embarked upon building an ambitious new events program. The first Midwinta mini-festival successfully debuted as our lead up to the Sydney 2002 Gay Games. With Sport, performing arts, film, literature and an educational conference the event established an excellent platform for Midwinta to continue. The Gay Games effort further developed with Team Melbourne being supported as a division of Midsumma and the development of a sports strategy to ensure Melbourne has the largest ever representation at Gay Games.
Continuing our efforts to provide new successful events saw the development of Pool Party, Cabaret Awards Night and further refinement of the Tea Dance. Our tourism strategy saw more interstate visitors than ever before and the ALSO Foundation and Tourism Victoria partnership paying dividends to the local economy. As a hallmark event within the Victoria event calendar we will strive to build on this events marketing success.
The support of our Principal sponsor The Market Hotel, a local gay owned and operated business ensured that we could financially put this festival together. We welcomed on board new major sponsors Ford and Telstra who bought with them a wealth of experience in working with the gay and lesbian community. The Festivals strengthened its partnership with the City of Melbourne, Stonnington City Council, City of Yarra, and City of Moreland.
Midsumma's commitment to the GLBTP community will be at the forefront of our future plans. An invigorated membership drive is underway and working group initiatives will further the involvement of the broader community. The future for Midsumma Festival is very bright. I thank my fellow board members, staff and the volunteers for their part in the success of Midsumma Festival 2001.
Midsumma 2001 Team
Midsumma 2001 was brought to you by:
Board of Management
- President Nigel Higgins
- Vice President & Carnival Director Cath Borg
- Secretary Stuart Martin
- Treasurer Glenn Pannam
- Acting Secretary & Tourism/Marketing Stuart Kollmorgen
- Design Chris Orr
- Publications/Internet Paul Clifton
- Visual Arts Angela Bailey
- Performing Arts Lena Cirillo
- Street Party Director Kenneth Cheng
- Registered Events Emma Crimmings & Catherine Dixon
- Human Resources Addam Stobbs
- Development Will Walton
- Entertainment Isabelle Gennarri
- Sport & Special Projects Tracey Wall
- Team Melbourne Leigh Johns
Staff and Contractors
- Projects Manager Brenton Geyer
- Business Manager Lee Matthews
- Festival Assistant Rebecca Anthony
- Street Party Coordinator Susie Wickes
- Carnival Coordinator Corby Beard
- Publicist Miranda Brown
- Publicity Sponsorship Agent Communications Factory
Working Group Volunteers
- Administration: Harry Walford, Jen Bugeja, Bryan Henderson, Desmond Walford
- Spoken Word: Crusader Hillis & Rowland Thompson at Hares and Hyenas, Natasha Cho
- Visual Art: Letizia Mondello, Kate McNeil, Eugene Barilo Von Reisberg, Peter Lambropoulos
- Team Melbourne: Owen Wyte, Sarah Yeomans, Sue Whyte
- Volunteer coordination: Jen Bugeja
- Special Projects: Shannon Cane
- Open Garden: Tamara Jungwith, John Houlihan
In excess of 100 volunteers roll up their sleeves each year to put on the biggest party in Gaytown.
Shifts for Opening Night Street Party start at 12noon and finish at 1am. Shifts on Carnival Day start at 7am and end at 1am after T Dance. Months of preparation go into each event and time after time - our volunteers are there for us!
Between Street Party and Carnival are 5 visual art shows to hang and fit, not to mention all of those opening nights where our volunteers serve you. There are Pool Party and Awards Night Cabaret where banners, decorations, marshalling and one or two BBQ's fall into the mix.
In addition to all of this, the office operates all year-round where our volunteers are an invaluable source of support.
We thank all of our Event based volunteers, including: Jen Bugeja Harry Walford Bryan Henderson Desmond Walford Jean McConnachie Anita Szasz Madelaine Imber Robyn Munro Rhiannon Kevin Guiney Budiadi Sudarto Ian Murray Bradley Warburton Hao Truong David =hevill Michael Long John Mason Fotini Panagiotiss Daniel Kilby Ian Wood Dark Waters Sharon Yeo Greg Roberts Sandy Newman Karryn Argus Andrew Harvey Sarah Lane Kate Kahane Joe Eskander William Lunn Cheryl Ferris Michael Barton Nicky Will Rachel U'Ren Jonnie Swift Ilsa McBryde Roslyn Irons Jessica Bell Rachel Fisher Stephen Jasper Cheryl Wile Kathryn O'halloran Simon Pollock Timothy Wise Andy Detracy Gerdien Van Jill Newton Shaun Stibohar Melissa Herbert Stephanie Alan Jager Craig Kingham Ryan Kidd Shaun Harris William Buckmaster Chris Molyreux Peter Buzia Tex McKenzie Josh Craig Natasha Van Velzen Catherine Woodger Liz Borg Katrina Woodland Crusader Hillis Rowland Thompson Marg Vandeleur Jules Wilkinson Chris =rill Ena Burstin Caroline Bowditch Michael Crowhurst and Contest Natasha Cho Urszula Dawkins Ron Johnson Ernest Kinsey Gavin Brown Geoffrey Parslow Kate MacNeill Bin Dixon-Ward Owen Wyte Jeffrey Grad Letizia Mondello John Houlihan Sara Yeoman Tamara Jungwirth Rob Gravestock Ed Jardin Chris Lefler Shannon Cane Scott Paplovic Jane Petersen The Pool Party Lifeguards Eugene Barilo von Reisberg Peter =ambropoulos Lin Tobias John Breheney Miss Penelope Peter Hurley.
2001 Special Guests and Special Projects
This year Midsumma was fortunate to host a number of very special projects and highly acclaimed international guest artists.
Midsumma's special events program boasted an amazing mixed bag of style, content, substance and art, ensuring that the festival delivered on its promise to the gay and lesbian community on diversity and inclusion.
Works by major international artists such as Diamanda Galas, Rick Castro and The Lady Bunny sat side by side with frolicking boys at the Pool party and amazing and low-tech cabaret shows such as performing dogs!
Special events reflect our passions, our desire to play, explore our strengths and give us a voice. Many unplanned moments at Midsumma events continue to shine as some of the years greatest moments.
Special Projects Director
"(Midsumma) drew more than 200,000 people to Victoria, including some 10,000 from overseas. That's good for tourism, that's good for the Melbourne economy and I think that's a reasonable investment" Acting Premier John Thwaites commenting about the $20,000 provided to Midsumma by Tourism Victoria - 3AW Tue 16 Jan 2001
"It is a defiant re-telling of Christianity's central story by those who have been shut out of the orthodox celebrations of it. It is an outrageous assertion that it is entirely possible to be both gay and christian" Helen Thompson on Corpus Christi - The Age Sat 20 Jan 2001
"I don't necessarily see the gay and lesbian community as a niche market. We have a very diverse group of employees at Ford, whether they are production workers, sales, service, marketers, suppliers or executives. They are a reflection of the community that we live in" Steve Kruk, Small/Medium Car Brand Manager, Ford Motor Co. - MCV Fri 1 Dec 2000
"Artists often deconstruct the standards of taste and decorum by which heterosexual behavior is seen as natural" Robert Nelson reviewing SLIT - The Age Wed 17 Jan 2001
"I often wonder, would there be drag kings and queens if we were free to dress and express ourselves as we wished?" Bridget Boson, Drag King - Herald Sun Mon 15 Jan 2000
"I see it as a way of empowering people to come out and be themselves...through the sport people can be whatever they want to be and stuff around as much as they like" Mark Schulze, SPOOFTA - MCV Magazine Fri 12 Jan 2001
2001 TOURISM MARKETING AND PLANNING
One of the exciting initiatives for the future of the Festival that developed out of the 2001 Festival year has been the cooperative partnership established between the Festival and Tourism Victoria. Generous support has been provided by Tourism Victoria for an interstate and international advertising campaign, and the development of an economic activity impact statement for the 2000 Festival.
The provision of grant funding of $20,000 enabled the Festival to strategically place advertising in the gay press in Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide, in magazines including Outrage, DNA and the Sydney Mardi Gras Guide, and in international publications.
The anecdotal evidence is that interstate and international visitations specifically for the Midsumma Festival and extended because of the Midsumma Festival have increased in each year of the Festival's development. In addition, the numbers of Victorians "holidaying at home in the January/February period of the Festival rather than holidaying elsewhere (such as in Sydney during the Mardi Gras period in late February) has increased. It is anticipated that tourism numbers and economic impact will become a subject of a forthcoming report in order that the effects of the interstate and international advertising campaign may be assessed.
In addition to this advertising, Tourism Victoria assisted the Festival by its ongoing Visiting Journalists' Program, which has in recent years assisted the Festival to showcase the Midsumma Festival, Melbourne and Regional Victoria to leading international opinion-makers from France, South Africa, New Zealand, United States during the period of the festival. In addition, there has been overseas follow-up of these visiting journalists and other visiting Travel Agents by Tourism Victoria's International Inbound Division. As a result of these initiatives, Midsumma together with Tourism Victoria has been able to identify areas of international and interstate tourism growth to benefit both Victoria and the Midsumma Festival.
Economic Impact Activity Statement
Festival sponsors have long stated a need for hard figures to justify their participation in the Festival. As a result of the ALSO Foundation's grant funding to the Festival from its community support fund, and Tourism Victoria's generous support, the Festival's first economic activity impact statement was launched on the eve of the 2001 Festival at the Commercial Road Street Party.
While Midsumma's success truly lies in the quality of its cultural and artistic event programming and the participation of the community in Festival events, the success of the Festival in these regards has brought with it economic success.
The main objective of the Economic Activity Impact Statement was to estimate the total economic impact of the 2000 Midsumma Festival on the Victorian economy. The staging of Midsumma in around Melbourne creates direct and indirect economic benefits to the Victorian and Australian economies. The direct benefits include expenditures by interstate and overseas visitors and certain components of the profitable operation of the event. The indirect benefit results from the multiplier effects of the direct impacts as they work their way through the economy.
The results of the economic activity impact statement are startling:
Selecting gross state product as the gross benefit indicator, the impact of the 2000 Midsumma Festival is to increase Victorian gross state product by $28.4 million. That is, if the Festival had not been held in Victoria then Victoria's gross state product would have been $28.4 million lower.
The Victorian State government tax receipts from the staging of the 2000 Midsumma Festival will be $1.8 million.
The total increase in Victoria's employment as a result of the Festival is 700 on a full year equivalent basis.
It is estimated that 88.6 per cent of Festival participants were from Melbourne, 4.8 per cent from intrastate, 2.3 per cent from interstate and 4.3 per cent from overseas.
The report was prepared for the Midsumma Festival Incorporated by the National Institute of Economic and Industry Research, trading as National Economics.
The Board's expectation is that the Statement produces the hard data that stakeholders require to justify their belief and investment in our community and our Midsumma Festival. The Festival's theme this year is "not just a pretty face" - and the Festival's economic impact bears that out.
The Festival thanks Brendan Downey, Ian McDougall and Chris White from Tourism Victoria, and Adam Pickvance and Michael Anderson from the ALSO Foundation.
Stuart Kollmorgen - Tourism, Planning and Marketing Director
Will Walton - Development and Sponsorship Director
2001 Visual Arts
The visual art program of the 2001 Midsumma Festival featured new initiatives and collaborations and accessed a new range or venues and galleries throughout Melbourne and Victoria. Two initiatives in particular were the Bendigo Project at the Allan's Walk Artist's Space in Bendigo and the Slit Installation at 200 Gertrude Street Gallery.
In the lead up to the 2001 Festival, Midsumma was keen to support and encourage artists and venues to be part of the program and create a vibrant, diverse presence.
The Bendigo Project featured an installation by artists Mark Mc Dean and Tim Craker titled Take a Look @ and is the first time Midsumma has initiated a Festival event in the City of Bendigo.
By taking an event/exhibition to Bendigo, the visual arts program appealed to regional viewers by bringing a bit of Midsumma out to them. This was strengthened by knowing the large percentage of people within Victoria who travel from regional areas into Melbourne to take part in the Festival.
The Bendigo Project - Take a Look @ was a shopfront installation made from objects sourced from the Bendigo area. Humorously billed as the "Myer Christmas windows meets Tiffany's with a queer urban twist", the installation presented domestic everyday items as never seen before. "It's amazing what you can do with a pair of tongs and an occy strap." - Mark Mc Dean.
Both established, practicing artists, working together for the first time, Mark and Tim were keen to create a piece that was a step away from their usual practices of painting and photography. In the lead up to the exhibition they travelled to Bendigo a number of times in order to create the piece.
Slit was the drive-by, walk-up 24 hour installation created by Melbourne artists Susan M Long and Jane Trengrove in the front gallery of 200 Gertrude Street.
It was the first time 200 Gertrude Street had been involved with the Festival and though closed during this period offered Midsumma the front gallery to create an installation. The artists proposed an installation that glowed by night and only viewed up-close and through a narrow slit in the window.
The artists used the talents of a professional signwriter to paint the front window bright luminous orange with the word SLIT featuring in type reminiscent of a sale at Dimmey's. Viewers bent over and gawked inside at an array of women's undies and bras.
"Ironically, the installation has a bizarre festivity that proposes the ultimate paradox: maybe neurosis is natural." Robert Nelson reviewing Slit in The Age, 17 January, 2001.
The opening was supported by the City of Yarra, who allowed us to take over some of the street frontage and the Mayor John Phillips opened proceedings.
Slit was a big, bold, vibrant presence on Gertrude Street, Fitzroy and contributed to the hub created on the street which also hosted a number of events and exhibitions as part of the Festival.
Visual Arts Director 2001
Word is Out
Word is Out during Midsumma 2001 was the largest ever Australian series of queer spoken word and literary events. Comprising 25 events throughout Midsumma, the series featured 93 writers and artists in the most successful Word is Out in its history. There were two international and 11 interstate guests. In the most diverse program ever, Word is Out 2001 comprised of readings, cabaret, forums, book launches, internet writing, writing workshops and film presentation, in a wide array of performance styles and subject matter. Feedback from writers and audiences this year was very positive.
The focus for Word is Out 2001 was writing by Indigenous Australians, with eleven Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers and performers taking part in four events. These were Outblack at the Blackbox, a joint production with Victoria's Koorie Gay Transgender Sistergirl Support group, Outblack; the Romaine Moreton Quartet; Dyke World at the Footscray Community Arts Centre; and Rapid Fire as part of Word is Out @ The Builders. We expect to include Indigenous writers in all future Festivals.
Continuing strands of spoken word performance started in previous Festivals, Word is Out again held a very successful session of transgender writing, Transliteration; and hosted a public meeting around the theme of access for writers for disabilities, Access All Areas. A spin off from the latter event includes the setting up of pressure group that will work towards providing better access for people with disabilities within the queer community.
Attendances for Word is Out were higher than in any previous year, with approximately 1,650 people attending sessions this year. Most income from ticket sales was distributed to writers, with the remaining funds going towards Auslan interpreters and other costs, including travelling expenses and accommodation for several Indigenous artists. Hares & Hyenas and Midsumma Festival each contributed significant funds and sponsorship to the season.
Most of the events at Word is Out were sign interpreted for the deaf, and most were wheelchair accessible. The issue of disability access for Word is Out, however, remains a serious planning challenge future Festivals.
There was a strong coverage of Word is Out in the glbt and mainstream media, with articles about particular events appearing in The Age and Herald Sun, weekly columns in MCV, coverage in BNews, and with over 20 radio interviews on stations including JOY FM, 3RRR and 3CR.
The season was curated by Rowland Thomson and Crusader Hillis, with the assistance of several independent event producers and volunteers. In particular, Natasha Cho, Margaret Vandeleur, Jules Wilkinson, Hinde Ena Curstin, Chris Brill, Urszula Dawkins, Context, The Victorian Writers Centre, Julia Trahan, and Ron Johnson and Ernest Kinsey from Outblack.
Spoken Word Curator
2001 Performing Arts
Midsumma Festival 2001 brought to the forefront a Performing Arts program that celebrated our diverse culture, challenged perceptions of our distinct community and explored the notions of identity. Midsumma presented a raw and engaging program that has never been stronger.
Wonderful new partnerships have been developed with the Victorian Arts Centre Trust, and venues such as Chapel Off Chapel, LaMama, the Mechanics Institute, and the Store Room amongst many have joined us in celebrating and presenting the performing arts and which have encouraged dialogue and debate amongst the wider community.
The Black Box
The Black Box Program at the Victorian Arts Centre presented 25 performances and had 2,050 patrons through the door. This exciting new theatre and music program is the beginning of a new era for the performing arts within Midsumma. This new partnership has generated such interest and many opportunities for our artistic community. The Victorian Arts Centre also housed the rigorous Mass Debate and an entrancing concert by Diamanda Galas in the Concert Hall during the Festival.
We welcomed and supported all our performers from interstate including Andrea Rieniets, who presented a wild erotic show filled with all the elements of music to its highest quality. It was an absolute pleasure presenting Andrea and her band who mesmerised so many. The Romaine Moreton Quartet, poetic and unwavering Indigenous artists from Sydney presented a strong and powerful spoken word music performance.
Our local emerging artists presented some dynamic work. "Bison" a bold and engaging production by Lachlan Philpott had a sell out season for which extra shows needed to be scheduled. All the theatrical elements were well thought out as this show demanded attention and challenged audiences. "Pretty Butch Face" by Bridget Boson generated much media attention, as her drag king characters came to life and intrigued us all.
There were many Performing Arts Highlights during Midsumma such as another sell out show of My life as a Dyke, by Pocket Money Theatre and the wonderfully combined theatrical elements in The Bull with a Fire in His Belly by George Filev. George is definitely a performer we should be looking out for. Uluation by Shirley Billing and Merophie Carr was another show that couldn't be missed. The audiences were in fits of laughter. It was intriguing to see the plethora of media attention about Corpus Christi by Terrence McNally, which challenged traditional ootions and perceptions of religion.
Overall, the performing arts program provided quality theatre to the community for which we are very proud. Well done to everyone involved in making this happen.
Performing Arts Director
2000 - TAKE PRIDE, TAKE JOY, TAKE ACTION
There was a renewed focus on sport in the leadup to the 2002 Sydney Gay Games. Sunday 30 January marked the first Pride March in the world in the new millenium, with music re-established along the route - provided by JOY 94.9 and the march endpoint being moved from St Kilda foreshore to Catani Gardens, followed by a party at the Palace. Midsumma ran its own parties: the Street Party in Commercial Rd, the new Pool Party at Fitzroy Pool, the Red Raw Recovery at The Market and the huge Tea Dance under the big top at Carnival. Midsumma included events at the Zoo, Planetarium and the new Aquarium. The third New Q Exhibition was presented at the Linden Gallery.
Tracey Wall was President this year.
Some key elements of the 2000 Midsumma Pride March included:
- Sun 30th January marked the first Pride march in the world in the new millenium, with 52,000 attendees.
- Music was re-established along the route - provided by Joy 94.9.
- The March endpoint was moved from St Kilda foreshore to Catani Gardens, followed by a party at the Palace.
- Regional groups attended from Albury / Wodonga, Gippsland.
- Vic Presence balloon arches appeared for the first time.
- Skywriting Pride 2000 (DTs). John Thwaites banner said "Not Quite Queer but Always Here."
- Concern was expressed at low membership numbers and consideration was given to moving the Pride March to the opening weekend of Midsumma.
- Board changes: Dean Beck stepped down as President. Michael Thornton took over, but left after a month and Penny stepped in.
If you are able to contribute more information about the 2000 (or any other) Midsumma Festival, please send your anecdotes, notes, images etc. to [email protected]
Our 1999 festival continued to be Melbourne's biggest celebration of gay and lesbian arts and culture. The year's successes hinged on a continuing effort to reflect both local community culture and the striking up of new strategic relationships with Melbourne's leading arts and cultural institutions.
In 1999, Midsumma's inaugural public art program in the form of ‘Queer Street' was the ‘coming out' of the festival into the streets and public spaces of the Melbourne City. Public interest was ensured by works in bus stops, subways and the lighting up in pink of the Victorian Arts Centre spire. And to prove that we can all come out as artists Mass Hang our first community art show debuted at Carnival attracting new crowds and over 100 budding artists. Watch out for an even more in your face and thought provoking public arts program next year.
Visual arts were again a strong part of the festival with NewQ opening at its new home of Linden Gallery, St. Kilda. This event sponsored by Melbourne's Gay and Lesbian Business Enterprise group (GLOBE) drew a wide range of Victoria's queer artists in to participate. We were pleased with an even larger viewing audience which ensured it a place in the list of major events Midsumma produces.
At the Victorian Arts Centre, a spectacular night of music was had with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Judi Connelli in cabaret, starting a new relationship with one of Australia's premiere arts institutions. New crowds were also entertained as our first battle of the bands project (entitled BANNED) saw Melbourne's queer rockers play it out at this year's Festival Club. This alternative pop scene is set to return next year even bigger than before.
The performing arts were again a highlight of this years festival with Club Swing's (City of Melbourne sponsored) Razor Baby setting the scene with a spectacular and ultimate dance performance. Ruby Lounge was held in the opening week of the festival and showcased, in a raucous night of cabaret the best of Midsumma artistes in splendour and style. Festival Club continued a tradition of offering emerging artistes a platform for short works with two, one week sessions of Queer Cuts 99.
Literature continued to be a strength of the festival and thanks mainly to the partnership with Hares and Hyenas Bookshops. Sell out crowds who came to see readings with critically acclaimed writers and a fruity cocktail of local writers found overwhelming support.
The four major 'signature events' within the festival returned with much public support: 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.
Board Member, 1999
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.
Festival hits new heights
Quotes from Peter Edmondes, this year's President, and other Board members:
The 10th Anniversay Midsumma Festival finished on Sunday 15 February on a high, with the Carnival in the Alexandra Gardens topping off a month long celebration of well attended gay and lesbian theatre, dance, literature, visual arts, music and community events.
"Midsumma's 10th anniversary festival has been marked by significant growth in its arts and cultural program, a touch of controversy and censorship and the highest level of media attention that we have ever received. The program of events reflected the diversity of Melbourne's gay and lesbian community and was embraced by not only that community but by the broader community as well."
"Listening to Robyn Archer address a crowd of five hundred queer and not so queer guests under the stained glass ceiling of the National Gallery of Victoria at the opening of the New Q exhibition was one of those moments of queer pride and left us all feeling a sense of community achievement."
Highlights of the festival included our international guest, Mika, who dazzled Melbourne audiences with his rich vocal talent and sassy style. "I was delighted to see Mika and The Age's very own Fiona Scott-Norman make guest appearances in the highly successful season of The Sun Also Sizzles; which was part of the 'Universal Experience' program at the Universal Theatre" says Peter.
"It was a great pleasure to attend the wonderful writer's events curated by Crusader Hillis and Roland Thompson, in particular the highly successful Girl Talk at the Lounge which was packed to the rafters. Other special moments included the 3rd Outsex exhibition, Ruby Lounge, Movies Under The Stars, The Princess Line Variety Hour and A Half and Gay Skate - the whimsical surprise hit of the festival!"
On a more serious note, Edmonds adds that "the unfortunate decision of ABC radio management to delay the broadcast of Radio National's recording of the Questioning The Queer Aesthetic forum was deeply disappointing and disturbing. The decision to censor queer voices and art must be of great concern to the whole arts community. Censorship is something that gay men and lesbians face every day and it only inspires us to organise events like Midsumma."
The festival closed with the not so traditional Carnival at the Alexandra Gardens. "The Carnival was an overwhelming success and celebration of the 10th Midsumma Festival" says Carnival Director Leigh Johns. "During the day over 150,000 people pased through the Carnival at Alexandra Gardens."
"We invited Melbourne to picnic in the park - with dykes and poofs, queer friendly folk and their families and they showed up in their thousands" says vice-president, Sue Fletcher.
Pride March - The Marshalls Project
The Marshalls Project, which had been launched in 1997 with a grant from ALSO, became an important element of Pride March.
Penny Macdonald: "Without the energy and commitment of the 82 marshalls who gave their time, Pride '98 would not have been possible. On behalf of the board and our community I thank you".
The Marshalls Project was very successful, and I believe we achieved the following aims:
- To provide the structure for a safe and organised march
- To empower individuals who participated
- To Build the working organisation of Pride March Victoria
The project was made possible with the support of the City of Port Phillip who provided a space for the marshalls workshop and our T shirts for the march, The ALSO Foundation who provided a grant of $1,ooo towards costs, and Joy Melbourne, MSO and BrotherSister who ran ads and interviews about our need for marshalls.
Eighty-two marshalls responded, which was fantastic. With the use of the ALSO grant we ran a marshall workshop at the St. Kilda Town Hall. Specialists in the areas of first aid, two-way radios and logistics of a public event ran sessions. We also spent time talking about the march and the role of the marshalls. Marshalls also helped with fundraising, especially the selling of our celebration kits to businesses in Fitzroy St, Acland St and Commercial Rd, and helped set up for our launch and fundraising events.
On Sunday 1 Feb the Melbourne queer community held its annual Pride March. Lesbians and Gays for Reconciliation made a gorgeous banner and led a contingent of a 1000 queers! Over a 1000 queers wore "Stick with Wik" and other reconciliation armbands throughout the march, a powerful anti-racist and positive reconciliation statement!
"WE ARE FAMILY" INCORPORATION
"We are Family" were incorporated in 1998.
If you are able to contribute more information about the 1998 (or any other) Midsumma Festival, please send your anecdotes, notes, images etc. to [email protected]
If you are able to contribute more information about the 1997 (or any other) Midsumma Festival, please send your anecdotes, notes, images etc. to [email protected]
If you are able to contribute more information about the 1996 (or any other) Midsumma Festival, please send your anecdotes, notes, images etc. to [email protected]
If you are able to contribute more information about the 1995 (or any other) Midsumma Festival, please send your anecdotes, notes, images etc. to [email protected]
If you are able to contribute more information about the 1994 (or any other) Midsumma Festival, please send your anecdotes, notes, images etc. to [email protected]
The entire festival was turned around within a budget of about $30,000. With this we were able to provide a poster, a guide, an administration for 33 events, and Melbourne's largest and newest gay/lesbian event - the Carnival.
It has become necessary to keep the festival alive throughout the year in order to maintain the increased community interest being shown, both locally and nationally. No longer is Midsumma a 2 week affair. Its machines must run constantly.Brenton Geyer, President
If you are able to contribute more information about the 1993 (or any other) Midsumma Festival, please send your anecdotes, notes, images etc. to [email protected]
If you are able to contribute more information about the 1992 (or any other) Midsumma Festival, please send your anecdotes, notes, images etc. to [email protected]
The 1991 Midsumma Festival ran from 22 January for 13 days, and kicked off with the Big Splash, a spectacular and somewhat debauched evening at the Collingwood Swimming Centre. Kerry Le Gore lead a ‘double decker megatour' to the Franco Cotso furniture complex and deeper west to a display home village and to HighPoint, where the police were called. Software 3 was the theatrical centrepiece, while Eine Kleine Fagfest Musik presented quality music by quality performers to a capacity crowd in Melbourne University's Melba Hall. The International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival ran for seven sessions at the National Theatre. The many other events included a conference at Melbourne University, workshops, venue events, a visual arts show, a cruise on the Yarra River, a swim spectacular and Midsumma in the Park, to name just a few. It was a tight, well-defined program that drew and delighted the crowds.
The work of the festival was done by some sixty regular volunteers, organised into fundraising, publicity, office and film festival working groups. While every person deserves praise, two people stand out particularly in my mind: Festival Coordinator Terry Harding, for his vision, enthusiasm, energy and all-round intelligence; and the late Pat Longmore, whose magnificent and generous contribution to gay film in Melbourne has yet to receive the recognition it deserves.
Our vision for Midsumma was a community-owned brand and framework that could be used by lesbian and gay groups to bring together and leverage their activities in the festival period. While this vision was widely embraced, our success affronted key leaders of the ALSO Foundation, one of whom went so far as to denounce the Festival through pamphlets. Agreements between ALSO, Midsumma and VAC to carve up the main party dates were broken, with ALSO parties scheduled at late notice against key Midsumma fundraising events on Cup Eve and New Years Eve. Thus threatened, our party seed capital dried up, and with it our main opportunity to fund the 1992 Festival: a blow from which the Festival was lucky to recover.
If you are able to contribute more information about the 1990 (or any other) Midsumma Festival, please send your anecdotes, notes, images etc. to [email protected]
1989 saw the first Midsumma Festival organised in Melbourne.
It 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. 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.Edited from an original article from the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives, published in MCV 96, October 11, 2002.
Since 1988, Midsumma Festival has been Victoria's premier gay and lesbian arts and culture festival, presenting an annual community celebration and encouraging the development of innovative artistic content and a unique cultural experience.Midsumma History
Midsumma Festival is Australia's premier queer arts and cultural festival, bringing together a diverse mix of LGBTQIA+ artists, performers, communities and audiences.About Midsumma