A POPULAR arts and cultural event that has seen more than a million people flock to Melbourne over the past four years could be co-hosted by Ballarat in 2017.
The Andrews Labour Government on Saturday confirmed support for another White Night event in Melbourne with a regional Victorian centre to also stage its own contribution to the festival for the first time in 2017.
Minister for Tourism and Major events John Eren said work is underway to identify a suitable regional host location for next year’s festival.
“Our regions do the big events so well, and this is a great chance for regional Victoria to shine,” he said.
With hundreds of thousands of visitors flocking to Melbourne’s CBD for the light and laser images, street performers and eateries over the weekend, Ballarat Mayor Des Hudson said an opportunity to host the popular event would be a huge boost for the city.
Cr Hudson said the city of Ballarat would be willing to “stick up their hand” for the job of hosting next year’s festival.
“We continue to build by way of arts and cultural events,” he said.
“Last year’s aspect of White Night at Sovereign Hill was fantastic and we seen strong numbers.”
With public art continuing to grow across the region, sparking plenty of conversation among the community, Cr Hudson said Ballarat isn’t new to the idea of digital projection.
“We’ve seen when that’s done well with projections on the Town Hall for a number of different causes,” he said.
As for the economic benefit for the city, Cr Hudson said it wouldn’t fall short of “significant”.
“Being at night, it would encourage people to stay overnight, to eat here … a healthy input for the whole community.”
This year two Ballarat artists, Josh Muir and Pitcha Makin Fellas, had their artwork displayed across Melbourne’s National Gallery of Victoria and Royal Exhibition Building as part of the weekend’s festival, another key aspect that paints Ballarat as a high contender in the mayor’s eyes.
“I would like to say we’re ahead of the pack,” he said.
“We know Ballarat can do events really well. We would embrace it.”
Next year’s event will mark the fifth White Night festival held in Melbourne with crowds continuing to grow each year.
Artistic Director Andrew Walsh released a statement on Sunday morning calling this year’s event a success.
The Age reported official estimates were that 580,000 people attended the free all-night event on Saturday night, up from 300,000 people in 2013 and 500,000 last year.
The Labor Government will seek expressions of interest for the delivery of the festival in 2017.
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