Melbourne’s new arts festival Alter State kicks off in September

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Melbourne’s new arts festival Alter State kicks off in September

Alter State Festival
'Meremere' by Movement of the Human - image by Tom Hoyle

Melbourne's new arts festival Alter State kicks off in September, showcasing works from creatives with disabilities and hearing-impairments.

Taking over Arts Centre Melbourne this September, the first-ever Alter State Festival will bring creatives from Australia and New Zealand/Aotearoa to feature works to live audiences across theatre, circus, music, storytelling and art-making, paired with family friendly events.

Lived experience is at the core of the Alter State Festival’s program; deaf and disabled artists lead the decision-making and creative development of the festival in what the organisers say will be an artist-led program.

Alter State Festival

  • Alter State is Melbourne’s new arts festival celebrating deaf and disabled creatives
  • It will feature theatre, circus, music, storytelling and art-making
  • Alter State will take place at Arts Centre Melbourne venues from 12 September to 9 October

Stay up to date with what’s happening in and around Melbourne here.

The program has been developed by creative lead Caroline Bowditch, in partnership with Arts Access Victoria and Arts Centre Melbourne – alongside the festival’s foundation artists: Victorian disability activist and writer Carly Findlay OAM, WA-based dancer/choreographer Joshua Pether, and New Zealand/Aotearoa dancer Rodney Bell.

I am hoping audiences will experience a welcome that allows anybody to feel a sense of belonging,” Bowditch said. “Authentic stories and voices will be shared through incredible art.

“Improving access, employment opportunities and participation for people with disability are integral to making Victoria a more inclusive place to live, work and enjoy through exciting events like Alter State,” Victorian minister for disability, Colin Brooks added.

Alter State Festival had its first iteration in November last year as a launch week, but 2022 will mark its first year as a fully-fledged arts festival.

Arts Centre Melbourne announces Alter State, a landmark new disability arts festival

Alter State program highlights

Performers from Women’s Circus will bring Arts Centre Melbourne’s outdoor spaces to life with Momentum, while Rodney Bell’s work Meremere will weave stories from the artist’s life through dance and theatre.

Aotearoa artist Rodney Bell’s (Ngāti Maniapoto) autobiographical work, Meremere will show at the Fairfax Studio from 29 September – 1 October. Meremere is compelling art, weaving stories from Bell’s incredible journey with dance, movement, and theatre. Arts Centre Melbourne’s public spaces will come to life with Momentum by Women’s Circus. A circus ensemble will explore concepts of space, time, and energy on the Main Lawn and Theatre’s Forecourt from 15 – 19 September.

The festival will feature two new commissioned works that explore a new world of possibilities with the debut of When The World Turns and Momentum.

Local theatre-makers for young people Polyglot will team up with the UK’s Oilycart for When The World Turns, while a unique sensory work for children and aspiring young creatives will take a deep dive into creative practice with the workshop series Come And Make Performance (CAMP). Aspiring creatives will have an opportunity to work with Back to Back Theatre with Come And Make Performance (CAMP)from 8 – 9 October. It is a series of workshops for participants from youth organisations Western Edge, Platform Youth Arts and St Martin’s Youth Arts.

Alter State also includes collaborations with disability-led screen festival The Other Film Festival – Australia’s leading arts and disability forum Meeting Place – as well as accessible portable arts space Nebula. The Other Film Festival from Arts Access Victoria and the Australian Centre of Moving Image. Meeting Place with Arts Access Australia, Curated Conversations with Australian Performing Arts Market (APAM) as well as arts pop-up Nebula with CheckPoint on the Theatres Forecourt. 

The festival prioritises accessibility with quiet spaces, Auslan and New Zealand Sign Language interpreters and live captioning.

Alter State will take place at Arts Centre Melbourne venues from 12 September to 9 October. Visit the website here.