Artistic and cultural life will be integral to Melbourne as a creative city. In our creative city of the future, ideas-driven industries, groups and individuals will be interwoven: sharing, inspiring and creating together. Local groups and individuals will be drawn to our many creative endeavours, making a vibrant, creative community.
Future Melbourne 2008


The quality and importance of Melbourne’s art scene was stated in many comments along with many who wanted to see it preserved and enriched. A key risk identified was the cost to artists of living and working in Melbourne. A common suggestion was to allow artists to occupy office and other similar spaces. It was felt that this would bring direct benefits to the artists and their hosts who would be inspired by having artist creation happening around them.

Comments were also made on increasing public access by making it cheaper to experience art and performance as well as through other initiatives that get the public involved. Specific art forms, such as busking, music, and literature will also be discussed.

There were overlaps between this Priority and Priority 2.1. Creative Risk Taking.

Summary of ideas (total 114 ctatements)

Supporting and enabling artists (31 ctatements)

There were three strong themes that were evident in these comments. The first was that there is a desire for art to thrive in Melbourne; the second identified the risks of high costs that will potentially drive artists out; and, the third was a commonly suggested solution — providing inexpensive space for artists, which will deliver direct and indirect benefits to artists and their hosts.

Many people stated that Melbourne is known for its creative arts and there was a strong desire for this to continue. Some of these comments stated that art is what makes Melbourne unique and inspiring and identified the need to nurture this sector. This was one comment.

Creatively - To be a bold and inspirational city requires the nurturing of the creative scene.

The risks to retaining and continuing to foster artists in the city were clearly identified, with the cost of living and finding space to create in the city being the main issues for artists. The concern was that if these costs were not addressed artists would be forced out of the city. This was one comprehensive description of the issue.

… this sector’s occupancy of Melbourne’s floor space has dropped in the past decade. These industries are leaving the City of Melbourne in what is a tremendous social, financial and aesthetic loss... Proximity of materials and facilities, rents that allow retail and workshop spaces to be co-located, and better recognition of on-shore production costs are all practical measures than can support the growth and sustainability of this sector.

This quote states the argument more succinctly and directly.

Giving actual real true value to the mantra 'a city for the arts'. Its becoming too expensive to live here. Renters have no rights. Fix this shit and the creatives will stay. Otherwise we'll nick off to Portugal (sic).

The solutions to this issue were variations on a similar theme; to provide cheaper space for artists to occupy. Several of these comments suggested that business should free up space for artists to occupy and create within. The benefits were seen as direct to the artists but also associated benefits that would flow to the host business, or space owner, were also identified. This comment described one version of this concept.

Spaces for artists to work -- Hot desks and admin/office materials made available at little to no cost from large city offices for artists to work. Mutually beneficial creative opportunities will arise!

This comment clearly articulated the potential benefits that could flow.

… For example a writer in residence may run a writing workshop for the host business, an artist in residence may create an artwork for the host business. We have managed this in my workplace before and it worked so well. It's a great way to bring the arts into the workplace and everyone wins.

Some identified the artistic benefits that would come to artists if they were sharing spaces, with some referring to creating art precincts, where artists would be able to inspire each other. This was one comment that suggested there should be a number of themed precincts.

… Perhaps the opportunity is now to provide the same opportunities in the Arts precinct. Its perhaps worth asking too about the new emerging neighbourhoods some with a strong creative heritage and some without. What opportunities do we see being available in areas of change such as Cremorne with its fashion history, Footscray with its university & rich multicultural arts community, and new areas such as EGate, QV Market, Fishermen's Bend and Arden with its proximity to the University & the its proposed new schools therein , to extend this rich narrative and capacity for not only elite arts activity but also community arts activity.

Some suggested that a way to make more space available would be to make it mandatory for developers to include the hosting of artists within their developments. This was one comment that expressed this opinion.

Creative Live/Work Spaces -- The city needs more places for artists to live and work within the city. Imagine if developers had to give a percentage of their floor space over as affordable live/work creative spaces. Huge benefits to residents, business and culture.

Affordability and accessibility for the public (14 statements)

These comments were split into two groups. The first group explained the need to provide cheap, or free art, to the public and the second group discussed ways to increase the opportunities for the public’s access to a range of different art forms.

Some stated that there is a need to provide more free events for the public. One suggestion was to create a free amphitheatre at QVM or in the CBD where 1000 people can view performances. The types of activities that should be cheap or free (identified by others), were museums, galleries, concerts, theatre, events and dance. Some thought that free art could be delivered in the form of pop-up experiences. This was that idea.

Free Art in the City -- Pop up experiences from professional artists creating experiences in the moment. Scattered throughout CBD.

The other area of discussion involving affordability was encouraging more people to be able to access the arts in a range of different ways. This was one comment on the need to reach out, contributed by a sector group.

Ausdance Victoria would like to suggest the following:

      • DELIVER dance and broader arts programs that are more accessible and affordable for all
      • ENCOURAGE participation from artists and non-artists, and new audiences to experience the performing arts.

This was one description of things that could increase access to the arts for all, from Auslan.

Accessibility in the Arts -- Improve and broaden accessibility in the arts, for audiences and artists, through support for increased: - Auslan interpretation - Tactile tours - Transport to venues for audiences otherwise unable to attend - Accessibility in public spaces and at festivals - Accessible arts grants application process - Quick response grants for performances to be made accessible

Other specific ideas regarding how to promote and deliver art were also provided. One was the idea for Art Cadets in schools to develop young talent, and the other was this exhibition suggestion.

The Vault -- Have a temporary installation of The Vault sculpture that was taken down from City Square in 1981. See how Australians view art and how their ideas have changed. I think this could be very interesting due to the importance of Art and visual stimulation in our culture.

Comments on specific art forms (69 Statements)

There were many comments on art in general, also though there were some mediums and art forms that received specific comment. These are discussed below.

Busking and street performers

On the website there was an extensive conversation discussing the creation of a monument to a well-known Melbourne busking identity, Ross Hannaford, who passed away in 2016. All of the many comments in the conversation were in favour of the idea. This was the idea.

Monument to Ross Hannaford -- The City of Melbourne should commission a monument to Ross Hannaford, sitting on his amp playing guitar busking, to be installed at te (sic) Cnr of Swanston St and Flinders Lane. Ross was regularly seen busking at this location. It would become a major tourist attraction as musicians, fans and fellow buskers would want to take photos playing with him. Ross Hannaford was on of Melbourne's greatest guitarists and much loved musician A monument to him at this location would be fitting to his memory.

Several people made comments about the positive atmosphere that buskers bring to the city and were keen to see them continue to be promoted. One specific comment explained that children enjoy being part of a crowd of people experiencing buskers on the street. Another thought buskers should also perform on trains and in stations.

Some were critical though of buskers, predominantly the inconvenience that they cause to people trying to navigate the city, in particular older, blind and deaf-blind people. One suggestion was to limit performers to Bourke street, and another that amplified sound should be reduced. This comment addresses the criticism that had been made of buskers, touching on both sides of the argument.

The comment about busking no longer being relevant because the population has increased seems rather strange. I think we are really fortunate to have the terrific musicians and street performers we have in Melbourne and rather than being a hindrance they add a lot of atmosphere to the city!


Several comments made detailed descriptions about the extensive history that Melbourne has in creating high quality music and that it needs to be preserved. Some identified Melbourne as the music capital of Australia and that music should be supported within the city, to ensure it continues to flourish. There were suggestions of how this could happen: a music writer’s festival; providing cheap space for performers, including an all-ages venue; and, more music events. One comment was that the Australian National Music Museum should be based in Melbourne. Another comment was that people travel from around the world to experience Melbourne’s current clubbing and live music scene. One practical suggestion for support was providing musicians with $300 hearing protection, considered important to preserve their hearing and careers.

A few comments discussed children’s interactions with music, including describing their appreciation of music in the city, and another extensive idea described the development of a musicians-in-schools programme, which would provide income to musicians and inspire the next generation.

This passionate comment summed up several people’s assessment of the quality of Melbourne’s music and the need to treasure and preserve it.

Music is a soundtrack to the city -- Music is a fundamental part of Melbourne's DNA and our citizens enjoy making, playing and being around all types of music. Where else to musicians from the small greasy pubs moonlight in orchestras, mix their music from all corners and have audiences that insist of accessing and participating? Let's make sure music and musicians are respected, promoted and paid so they too can continue to contribute to our culture and economy. Use Victorian made music in council promotion, at events and invest in opportunity for our creators. Keep providing and encouraging connections with local culture and businesses create a major investment in popular music events and exhibitions

There were a few people who explored an idea to create a music walk, or similar, which celebrates Melbourne’s musical heritage. One idea described a digital accompaniment to the walk. This was one description.

Music Heritage -- A city walk with paved plaques / statues ( or laneway) of Melbourne Musicians for example Mr Billy Thorpe Johnny O'Keefe ect ect., Melbourne's Live Music is our Heritage in its self. Dame Nelly Melba at the MSO ect., linking the famous people who made Melbourne's Music Heritage.

A couple of comments stated that the city is too loud and that all noise and music should be reduced.

Literature and theatre

Similar to music, people discussed Melbourne’s place as a literary city. Several people mentioned Melbourne’s status as a UNESCO city of literature and some of these comments also included the need to elevate the support of literature to be fitting of this status. There were a variety of ideas in these and other comments that proposed how this could be achieved.

One idea that was expressed several times, in quite detailed responses, was the desire to have a resident theatre company, which exclusively performs Australian plays. This was one of those comments.

An theatre company for Australian plays -- Melbourne needs a fully funded theatre company devoted to new Australian plays. We need a company with a theatre for about 250-300 audience capacity that will perform new Australian plays. The City of Melbourne is the perfect place for such a theatre. La Mama Theatre in Carlton has been carrying the load for decades and is overworked and straining at the seams, running two plays a night and only offering short seasons. It also only seats 35-40 at its small theatre and 55-65 at the La Mama Courthouse. I am a playwright and have just written a play about the exclusion of one of our important playwrights from history: Oriel Gray. Let's not let it happen anymore. Let's support our playwrights.

Another suggestion to promote literature was a detailed idea that received discussion in a conversation, explaining a concept of taking storytelling to rural Victoria, which would not only enhance literature but would also strengthen the connections between Melbourne as a large city and its rural neighbours. Other suggestions were to support libraries, and several people explained book-sharing schemes in public places, via vending machines or similar.