THE INAUGURAL White Night Ballarat attracted 40,000 festival-goers to the city over a 12-hour period, showcasing exactly why Ballarat is renowned as a melting pot of arts and culture. Here are five reasons why the city is fast-becoming a must-visit arts destination.
1. A city built on gold
According to Ballarat artist Beth Lamont, whose work Fibre Lane was a crowd favourite at White Night, Ballarat is a city profiting from what has been found beneath it - gold.
"It's full of history, stories and culture," Beth says.
"We live in a very special place and we’d do well to celebrate it more often."
2. A city akin to European locales
Imagine walkng down a historic Parisian street, or admiring the majestic architecture of Italy. Similar experiences can be found simply by wandering the streets of Ballarat.
"When you think of the beautiful old cities of Europe and the UK and the way that arts and culture are part of their fabric and personality - the same is true of Ballarat," Beth says.
3. A thriving music and entertainment scene
Ballarat is home to one of regional Australia's most thriving live music scenes. With music venues the likes of Karova Lounge and Suttons House of Music, a dedicated monthly comedy club, and one of the country's most iconic theatres Her Majesty's, there's always something to see, do and enjoy in Ballarat.
Then there's the multitude of festivals and events that take place throughout the year - all of which have elements of music and entertainment.
Just recently, the city played host to a range of high-profile musicians as part of its Summer of Sound, with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, John Farnham, The Cat Empire and Xavier Rudd all making pit stops in Ballarat, further solidifying us as a creative hotspot.
4. A season dedicated to art
I mean, sure Ballarat is home to Australia's oldest and largest regional art gallery, not to mention the scattering of independent galleries across the city. But wait, there's more!
Every year, Ballarat devotes its spring season to one thing - art. The city comes to life with a plethora of artistic offerings. Last year, it played host to the prestigious Archibald Prize, attracting more than 57,000 people during its six weeks. This year, the Art Gallery of Ballarat will be hosting the much-anticipated Romancing the Skull exhibition. This will be in addition to other Season of the Arts events including the Ballarat International Foto Biennale and the Ballarat Cabaret Festival.
"Arts and culture are such an important part of life, not just for those of us who live and breathe it everyday, but for everyone. To engage with art/music/performance is to feed your soul, and more often than not it’s just damn good fun," Beth says.
5. A forward-thinking city
The advent of White Night Ballarat showcased Ballarat's ability to harness its creative side and host large-scale events of a creative calibre.
"The creative industries in Ballarat are growing, diversifying, embracing new ways of thinking and there’s always room for (more)," Beth says.