Introducing FUSE, Melbourne’s groundbreaking new arts festival

Introducing FUSE, Melbourne’s groundbreaking new arts festival

Emma Donovan
Words by Tom Parker

The festival has just lifted the lid on their 2020 program.

There’s a new multi-arts festival hitting Melbourne throughout spring and they’ve just dropped the program for the groundbreaking first instalment. Devised by the Darebin Council, FUSE is designed to be wide-ranging and heterogeneous, accommodating a range of different access points for audiences and practitioners.

From now until November 29, nearly 50 events will go down online – each taking place with the current COVID-19 restrictions in mind. FUSE will explore music, visual arts, radio broadcasts, podcasts, film and art-focused walks, providing a fantastic new creative escapade for Melburnians.

Without further ado, here are some of the highlights of the program:

Judged by the likes of Emma Donovan, Charles Jenkins and Jess Ribeiro, the much-anticipated Darebin Songwriters Award will be announced as part of FUSE. Taking place from 7pm on Thursday September 17, the Darebin Songwriters Award Grand Final Broadcast will take over 3KND Radio where two local songwriters will be recognised for the official Darebin Songwriters Award as well as the People’s Choice Award. There was well over 100 entries into the competition.

The winner of the Darebin Songwriters Award will go home with $2000 cash, studio time, mastering and more, while the People’s Choice Award-winner will receive $500 cash.

On Saturday September 26, a special online panel will take place honouring the storied live music history of Darebin. Titled Nobody Can Stop The Music, panelists Bunna Lawrie, founding member and lead singer of Coloured Stone, will be joined by multi-instrumentalist Rose Turtle Ertler, to chat about the region’s famous live music past.

The two will touch on the legacy of the Arcadia Ballroom and Northcote Plaza during the ’50s and ’60s, and the Croxton Park during the ’70s and ’80s while also remembering some of the most revered acts to have played at Darebin venues over the years.

Punters will be able to see Darebin in a different light with HYPERLOCAL, a new series of immersive art works that celebrates the familiarity of the region’s streets, buildings and landmarks. Experience HYPERLOCAL through narrative, song, visual art, performance and technology with three new works commissioned solely for FUSE that can be downloaded from home. These include Beats, Ballads and Ballrooms: Darebin Live Music Venues 1955-2020Caged Hearts and Swallow Walk.

At 10am on Saturday October 24, visual artists Luke Duncan King and Dan Goronszy will host an online workshop in both English and Auslan titled Hearts In Isolation. Inspired by the current lockdown we’re all facing, punters are invited to engage in this mapping project that brings to the fore the objects, spaces, elements, actions, words and more, that have kept your spirits high while in isolation.

To participate in Hearts In Isolation, FUSE encourages you to have some materials at the ready, such as some paper, pens, pencils, fabric, crayons, cardboards etc – the world’s your oyster. Register for Hearts In Isolation here.

Outside of that, there’s Infinite Thanks – a collaborative art project celebrating the spirit of the LGBTIQ+ community. Local artist Kaff-eine invites LGBTIQ+ folks and allies to become part of the project, where she will put together a growing collection of small devotional paintings based on personal stories of LGBTIQ+ gratitude and thankfulness.

Adapted with COVID-19 in mind, Infinite Thanks encourages people to collaborate safely from home, sending through their story of thankfulness and their LGBTIQ+ hero to Kaff-eine via email ( Kaff-eine will then create a devotional painting from your submissions. Submissions are open until Tuesday September 15.

FUSE goes down online from now until November 29. Find out more via the festival website and keep up to date with them via their Facebook and Instagram pages.

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