There's hope regional tourists will flock back to Ballarat as more events return and attractions open following the city's damaging eighth lockdown.
The Ballarat International Foto Biennale, which has already been extended to January, has finally been able to open more of its paid exhibitions to ticketholders, while the 1000 Doors installation on Armstrong Street will reopen on September 29.
In good news for competitors, as well as accommodation and hospitality providers, the famous Royal South Street calisthenics, dancing, and aria competitions are expected to restart in October.
The events join tourist favourites like the Ballarat Wildlife Park, Sovereign Hill, and Kryal Castle reopening for the school holidays, as well as the Art Gallery of Ballarat.
Biennale artistic director Fiona Sweet said it was exciting to reopen, with a focus on attracting regional crowds while Melbourne remains locked down.
"I'm just looking from our new central hub where we have all these fabulous books and Linda McCartney merchandise, and I'm looking on the street and really there's people on the street and there's cars parked and it's just so exciting to see people back in the inner city of Ballarat," she said.
"We're only open to regional Victorians who are not in lockdown and we are very strict about complying with all our obligations here in Ballarat. At this point, we have a maximum of 20 people per venue and we scan them and we check their IDs, so we're providing a very COVID safe environment for our volunteers but also for our audiences.
"We believe we will have very low numbers in terms of audiences until Melbourne comes out of lockdown, so we really recommend for all regional Victorians and particularly for local Ballarat audiences to come now in the next few weeks, because it's a perfect time to see, specifically the hero exhibition Linda McCartney. Where normally you'd be sort of four or five deep with people looking, there's not going to be competition for space at the moment.
"It's going to be quite expensive for us to extend. We don't necessarily get the benefits, it's more that we wanted audiences to come. A two-month festival ending up being a four-month festival with double the amount of cost for everything. But, it's important, it's really important.
"We're really excited to be part of the spring festival, part of the winter festival and now we'll be part of the summer festival."
Royal South Street chair Peter Zala said the returning competitions would be for regional entries only.
"We're going to do a regional dancing competition at the end of November, calisthenics will be much the same, in October and November, and we're still hoping to have the Herald Sun Aria in late October," he said.
"We're still hoping to do our Chopin competition in October, Arts For All, our competition for people with disabilities, we're doing that by video production in the middle of November, and the Victorian Band Championships, at South Street held each year, we're hoping to hold that towards the end of November.
"The roadmap is giving us some heart that the restrictions will get better as we get closer towards the end of the year, still COVID-permitting, (but) one of the main drivers we have at the moment is the competitors, who are just so anxious to strut their stuff and get on stage.
"They haven't had the opportunity for 18 months or more now."
Tickets are now on sale for the 1000 Doors installation, with dates extended to October 24.
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