Ballarat could have a brand new mass participation street festival this spring, aiming to fill the void left by White Night and attract 40,000 people.
The City of Ballarat has issued a tender for expressions of interest to develop a "major spring time festival", with a working title of the Festival of Big Ideas.
According to council documents, a creative consultancy is being sought, with events like Sydney's Festival of Dangerous Ideas, the Cannes Lion Festival of Creativity, and Quebec's Passages Insolites as inspiration.
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"The city is committed to developing an innovative set of experiences that we can become known for," the document states.
"The activation is seen as a complement to the 'off year' to the Ballarat International Foto Biennale.
"It is envisaged that the event will create a safe space to investigate and activate 'bigger, better, bolder' ways of thinking."
In recent years, Ballarat has hosted the White Night festival, which features art installations in closed-off streets over a single night.
It's also hosted the Biennale of Australian Art, a city-wide collection of art exhibitions, in 2018.
The document states the community is excited for another mass participation event, given the "cessation" of BOAA and White Night - the latter will be staged in Geelong and Bendigo in the next two years.
"The community is eager for an alternative for White Night and are prepared to take to the streets again to enjoy the common spirit," it reads.
"The activation must loop in with planned activities and not appear to be 'bought in' from elsewhere."
While the costs are not detailed, a budget of "several hundred thousand dollars" is "anticipated".
This will "will require a successful funding application to the state government and private sector investment".
"Council can provide support with developing and submitting funding applications, which can be prepared once sufficient level of detail on the event concept is known."
The target audience for the event includes day visitors, intra-state, particularly from Melbourne, and interstate visitors for overnight stays, and residents seeking activities and opportunities to experience the city with and without their children.
The aim is for 40,000 patrons, and 10,000 bed-night stays.
It should also "achieve a "wow" response from Melbourne-based and interstate visitors".
"The tourism industry is looking to council to provide another large-scale community participation event that will bring significant numbers to the town," the document states.
The event should include existing Ballarat assets, and "create, provide, or use works that are new to Victoria", and have a "strong capacity for sharing of content on social media platforms".
The document includes several "leaping off points", or suggestions for themes.
These include a steampunk World's Fair celebration of Ballarat inventor Henry Sutton and current scientific innovations, and an exploration of Ballarat's dark history.
"There is a prevalence of darker stories that touch on Ballarat's heritage, which can be commodified and packaged to deliver a strong suite of products and experiences," the document states, noting the untold stories of Indigenous groups and the experiences of minorities on the gold fields.
Other ideas include connecting with Ballarat's famous gardens around the lake and on Sturt Street, and a revamped Heritage Weekend.
"There is a crucial importance in continuing to maintain the elements of the town that authentically represent important time periods throughout the city, however there is an opportunity to look closely at the way heritage is marketed and look at it through a more contemporary lens," it states.
"The time is right to refocus a new generation on the stories of the past, while creating a heritage of the future."
Another suggestion involves capitalising on the city's UNESCO Creative City Network status as a City of Craft and Folk Art.
A City of Ballarat spokesperson said in a statement the event or activations will "communicate the personality and identity of our city".
"The event should be a powerful yet simple city-wide activity that will express the unique and authentic voice of our complex community," they said.
The document also mentions the Ballarat is Open initiative, which began last year.
"The city is ... undergoing a comprehensive analysis of its brand personality and perceptions through a program called Ballarat is Open - there remains a strong opportunity to bring the findings of this analysis into developing the event content," it states.
"The activation is a chance for the city to be bold. This is a rare opportunity for creative and daring thought, to design an activation that helps the City of Ballarat articulate its authentic point of difference.
"Current promotional activities and events hosted by the City do not fit the requirements of this activation, however there is a good opportunity to review and potentially refresh existing initiatives."
Tenders close February 5 through the City of Ballarat eProcure website.
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