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Festival of Live Art

Mar 14, 2014

In Deep Water 11, Katie Sfetkidis. Credit: Lucy Parakhina.


Kicking off its first year, the Festival of Live Art is a 17 day festival hosted in Melbourne between the 14 – 30 March, 2014. With funding support from Emerging and Experimental Arts of the Australia Council, the Festival of Live Art (FOLA) is going to take audiences to new and intimate places, both literally and metaphorically!

Recent years have seen a proliferation of live art practice and discussion among Australian artists exploring ‘the live experience’ with audiences. What is notable about much of this work is its diversity in form, content and context. Live Art is often distinguished by some of the following elements:

  • live interventions and experiences in public space
  • work that is participatory, experiential and audience focused – exploring the audience as makers of art
  • the use of non-traditional spaces for audience engagement
  • employing critically responsive and risk-taking process
  • small-scale, bespoke performance for specific audiences, spaces and situations
  • a highly variable, often ephemeral and potentially portable type of practice engaged with or situated within communities
  • developed from a diversity of contexts.


Many artists working in this space have come to their live art practice from a range of artforms: performance art from the fine arts/visual arts tradition and gallery white-cube spaces; performance making from theatrical traditions and black-box spaces; live networked experiences from relational aesthetics and media arts; and community engaged practice from community arts and cultural development.

The development of live art in Australia is artist driven: an attribute that artists working in this field consider important. Live art is developed through the artists’ process and their vision for the audience’s engagement. Artists use live art to experiment with theatrical, narrative, installation art and other conventions, in innovative and iterative ways.

It is these elements that make live art a practice where artists can take risks and invite audiences to join them on a journey of discovery. Many of the works explore complex social issues through human interaction and audience participation. What makes live art so dynamic is the audience is often asked to be a participant and creator in their own artistic experience.

The only live art event of its kind in Melbourne, FOLA is the brainchild of three collaborating organisations, Arts HouseTheatre Works and Footscray Community Arts Centre. It will feature 40 contemporary arts and community events.

FOLA highlights those artists making work directly in front of an audience, crystallising notions of live performance in space and time. Audiences will be confronted with performances on phones, performances on streets, performances on websites and more intimate one-on-one performance – a performance and one audience member per show.  Audience members will have the opportunity to observe, to participate and create works.

FOLA promotes a program featuring local and international artists working across multiple artforms including: Song-Ming Ang (Singapore), an artist whose practice deals exclusively with sound and music; a Live Art Escort Service by triage live art collective; the world premiere of a new Ranters Theatre production created by Beth Buchanan; and interactive installation creative by Sam Routledge and Martyn Coutts in collaboration with model railway hobbyists; a new project by SA theatre make and conversationalist, Emma BeechJulie Vulcan whose performance explores the fine lines between security and fragility; coffee stories and rituals from performance poet Alia Gabres ; a live public artwork along and across the Yarra River; a new dance work by Nat Cursio performed in her middle room; Yana Alana’s new show in a bed; and the 24 Hour Experience: Melbourne, a large scale performance event that features live works taking place every hour on the hour over 24 hours; plus master-classes and interactive workshops.

The Festival of Live Art takes place across three weeks from 14-30 March 2014.