Breaking Box Office Records for Midsumma Festival

Midsumma Festival wraps up in a blaze of glory this Sunday 10 February, having already smashed box office records and increased attendance to both Midsumma Carnival and Midsumma Pride March.

Finishing up this Sunday, Midsumma Festival 2019’s total attendance numbers are expected to exceed 285,000 across a total of 179 events in Melbourne’s CBD and wider Victoria.

The festival’s opening weekend kicked off with a bang with the annual Midsumma Carnival attendance estimated at 118,000,  the highest ever recorded. This success was soon followed up with another record-breaking event, with total participants in Midsumma Pride March at 7,430 (2,130 more than 2018), and total attendance for the event at 53,430.

Back for its second year, Midsumma Extravaganza (pictured) at Hamer Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne was once again a smash hit, with three times the audience attendees than its premiere year.

“Midsumma continues to go from strength to strength creatively, and we are so proud that not only was this year’s program such a hit in terms of attendances, but also such an unqualified artistic success,” said Midsumma Festival CEO Karen Bryant. “Standing ovations, sell out performances, and visual arts exhibitions of the highest standard. There were too many highlights to mention, alongside special memories to last a lifetime.”

Midsumma Festival’s 2019 major project was the sell-out hit BODY – made up of 13 works including exhibitions, performances and workshops across three days at Arts House, as well as satellite events at Arts Centre Melbourne and Incinerator Gallery. Featuring leading international and local artists, BODY championed the notion that individuals should have sovereignty over their own bodies and amplified the voices of trans, gender diverse and intersex peoples.

The Midsumma Pride March Awards – selected by LGBTQIA+ artists and community advocates Mama AltoRuby Mountford and Adolfo Aranjuez – intended to encourage a bright presence from participants, were won by the following groups: Most Fabulous – VIKA, queer Pacific Island advocacy group; Most Significant Message – Lifeview Residential Care; Most Innovative – Rainbow Aboriginal Pride; Honourable mentions – Victoria’s Bisexual Community, Deaf-initely Pride, Minus18 and Melbourne Aces – Asexuals Australia.

The Midsumma and Australia Post Art Prize’s People’s Choice Award Winner was Paul Yore, who makes large scale textile and multimedia wall hangings that combine everything from imagery of classical Greek sculpture to gay porn. Yore’s work is complex, hysterical and real – a frenzied exploration of excess in our contemporary political landscape. Yore, who is no stranger to controversy, engaged with the same-sex marriage debate in his work for the art prize. All winners can be found at https://midsumma.org.au/participate/map-art-prize

Image: Midsumma Extravaganza cast at Hamer Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne. Image includes Rhys Nicholson, YUMMY, Geraldine Hickey, Steven Oliver, Mama Alto, Joel Creasey, Trevor Ashley, Beccy Cole, Sheldon Riley, Libby O’Donovan, Zoe Coombs Marr and the divine Carlotta. Photography by Suzanne Balding.