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Reviving the St Kilda cultural precinct

Brooke Boland

Artists are invited to reinvent an iconic slice of Melbourne and activate St Kilda as a cultural centre.
Reviving the St Kilda cultural precinct

What could you do with a 21,700m² blank canvas?

It is a question the City of Port Phillip is putting to individuals and organisations in its recent call for expressions of interest to activate the St Kilda Triangle.

Activating the St Kilda Triangle is the first part of a long-term strategy that aims to bring the bayside suburb to life in winter through new arts and cultural experiences.

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The Triangle, bordered by the Palais Theatre, the Esplanade and near Luna Park, has been a destination for generations of Melburnians and it is about to get much better,' said a Council spokesperson.

‘​Port Phillip Council wants to re-imagine what St Kilda can be, away from just purely a beachside experience, and is starting a conversation on what the cultural future of St Kilda will look like.

‘​The prospect of being able to support a new kind of experience in St Kilda is an exciting one and Council is providing that opportunity.’

Council sees the activation of the Triangle site as an opportunity for new experiences that aim to be in the same league as Vivid in Sydney, or Dark Mofo in Tasmania.

EOIs can suggest a range of activation types for the space, from big ideas that could see the beginning of a new month long festival, to pop-up venues that offer unique experiences to audiences, or even a series of events. Applicants can propose to manage the whole site, part of the site, or offer smaller activation and collaborate with another provider.Multi-year agreements will also be considered on a case-by-case basis.

‘​The three month period offers potential for not just one single event but also a series of outcomes with different scales of production,’ the spokesperson said.

A new St Kilda in winter

This second round call for EOIs in St Kilda is part of a larger trend in the arts in Melbourne that has seen an increase in events during winter.

While the colder months can be isolating for many people, activations such as this provide the opportunity for connection through the arts – a major benefit for the local community and visitors alike.

Read: Why we need the arts more in winter

These winter events fill in what were previously empty months on the arts and cultural calendar and give audiences the chance to enjoy new experiences, as well as offer further economic support to local businesses and artists year round.

St Kilda has already begun its winter activation with the local Winter Eats program and the Live N Local music program, which previously ran in summer but is now slotted for August.

Spreading events throughout the year not only ensures a better spread of audiences, it also redefines the suburb as a music destination not just a summer spot.

Council views anything that might happen from the St Kilda Triangle activation as being able to also support the development and future versions of Live N Local.

Winter activation will give people the opportunity to experience the site as a place to explore exciting ideas and do something different.

The activation is a precursor to future development of the Triangle through the St Kilda Triangle Masterplan, which establishes a vision for the Triangle site and a framework that outlines where built form should be located, the massing and size of that form, the character of the public realm and connections to the broader precinct.

The project is looking forward, towards the future of St Kilda and its place in the wider cultural fabric of Melbourne.

It’s one of ​Council's pivotal land development projects, so what the activation plan component becomes is the first iteration of ​the shift towards changing the way that space will be experienced by people into the future.

The EOI is open from 27 May to 29 June 2016. Applicants will be notified of the outcomes in July 2016.

For more information visit http://www.portphillip.vic.gov.au/stkildatriangle-events-eoi.htm

About the author

Brooke Boland is a Melbourne-based freelance writer. She recently completed her PhD on gender, translation and women's writing and has tutored undergraduates at Victoria University and the University of NSW.

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