Now or Never: A deep dive into cutting-edge art, captivating music and thought-provoking experiences

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Now or Never: A deep dive into cutting-edge art, captivating music and thought-provoking experiences

Words by Luke Carlino

As Melbourne’s newest festival celebrating music, art and future thinking, Now or Never features over two weeks of events from sonic and visual artists, creators and composers from Australia and the world.

Ah, Melbourne, you’ve done it again! Ensuring Victoria stays at the forefront of art, music, technology, and all-around creativity, the City of Melbourne offers itself as the canvas for a multi-sensory festival rife with new ideas, boundless artistry and even some international guests.

Now or Never brings together over 300 artists for a huge program of events that will help you discover cutting-edge art installations, musical performances and other thought-provoking experiences.

Heeding the call for curiosity and collective awe

 Now or Never offers a huge program that encourages you to step out of your comfort zone and open up to some new experiences. The Royal Exhibition Building features an eclectic mix of international and Australian headliners, from Orchestra Victoria’s performance of Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians paired with a video installation from Kiwi multimedia artist Jesse Woolston, to performances from English electronic duo Autechre and techno experimentalists Actress and Giant Swan in total darkness (except for stunning 3D visuals from artist Max Cooper).

You can catch world-renowned musicians, such as electronic heavyweights Ame, George FitzGerald and CC:DISCO! or avant-garde RnB stars from the US, Kelela and serpentwithfeet.

The southern hemisphere’s most prestigious design festival, Never Permanent, is included in the line-up and will be headlined by filmmaker Roman Coppola. You’ll also be able to pop into the Neversphere, a pop-up dome in the Melbourne Museum forecourt that features an immersive 360-degree cinema experience.

Meanwhile, ACMI will become an animated realm of projection, turning you into a shifting avatar modelled by live dancers for Body Crysis / 身體災變. The Arts House will also host An Uprising of Dreams, an immersive art intervention of sound healing, projection art, and guided meditation.

Opening Night Party with Soju Gang

  • Thu 17 Aug | 10pm-3am
  • Max Watts


Now or Never is a great chance to get familiar with the future of art, music, the planet and general creativity throughout Melbourne, with a stack of events to cater to all tastes. Your first chance to get involved will be at Max Watts for a free all-night party featuring First Nations artists and DJs curated by Soju Gang, featuring DJ PGZ, SOVBLKPSSY, and Mookito.


  • Melbourne Museum Plaza
  • Fri 18 Aug – Fri 1 Sept

Melbourne Museum Plaza will be transformed into Now or Never’s portal of time and space. The Neversphere is a 360° screen that wraps around the curved interior walls of a pop-up planetarium.

Enter, grab a beanbag and watch the array of films on offer as part of the program. There will also be a sensory dinner with art projections from Ryoichi Kurokawa, Pantha du Prince, Natalia Stuyk, and a range of other events. These include films from Ólafur Arnalds and Torsten Posselt, Carriberrie, a stunning documentary about black holes with Dr Tanya Hill, and much more.

Art installations throughout Melbourne

Docklands undergoes a stunning transformation as part of Now or Never with the Docklands Art Trail – running from August 17-20 – a 1.2-kilometre art trail crafted by Experimenta. Exploring the fascinating convergence of art and technology, employing robotics, creative coding, data, virtual reality, and augmented reality, you’ll see AI-generated monsters, a giant light beam, and much more.

Over at the Shrine of Remembrance, Hungarian artist Laszlo Bordos will be using 3D mapping, sculptural illuminations, and projections to bring the iconic structure to life, paired with a unique sonic landscape for an installation called SACRA, running from September 1-2.

Learn a little something along the way

 Melbourne Museum’s IMAX will host a conversation with renowned environmentalist and scientist Dr. David Suzuki and ABC journalist and presenter Natasha Mitchell. Dr. Suzuki will be beamed onto the IMAX screen live from Canada for a keynote about the future of life on Earth and the importance of shaping a thriving future. Audience members will also get the chance to ask Dr. Suzuki, one of the world’s most respected voices in the environmental movement, any questions they may have about the pressing environmental challenges we face.

There are a range of keynotes included in the Now or Never program to help you quench your thirst for knowledge. Learn about equitable, caring and regenerative futures with a talk from London-based social entrepreneur, architect, and visionary Indy Johar of Dark Matter Labs. You can also pop over to the Arts House to see Tricia Hersey, founder of The Nap Ministry, who will help you understand rest beyond mainstream wellness concepts with Rest is Resistance.


If you feel like partying all damn weekend, you can, thanks to NONSTOP WKND, the ultimate choose-your-own-adventure festival within the Now or Never extravaganza. With 70 artists and 13 unique shows, this event encompasses two epic nights of genre-bending and venue hopping. The future of Melbourne’s live and electronic music scene will be on display to close out the Now or Never festival on September 1 and 2, starting from midday and running into the wee hours.

Six city venues will be filled with pulsating beats, cutting-edge audio-visuals, thought-provoking talks, and groundbreaking performances. The Toff, Miscellania, Max Watts, Sub Club, The Curtin and Section 8 will host a music-filled weekend featuring newly commissioned works from local artists and international acts that have never graced our shores.

Choose your Now or Never events now (or it will be never)

Explore the future in the present and leap into the unknown with the Now or Never catalogue of free and ticketed events, all up for grabs now. Choose something that sounds a little weird from the over 300 Australian and international artists, open yourself up to a new experience and be transported to a place where technology rarely goes.

Now or Never takes place in Melbourne from August 17 to September 2. To find out more and view the full program, head here