The Melbourne International Arts Festival wound up over a week ago. Maybe you didn't notice. Maybe you never noticed it had even started. This year was the first festival of new Director, Brett Sheehy. It was a much more "in door" festival than we become used to over recent years. This year's Festival had minimal street presence. In the last few years the Spiegeltent had helped get the festival out among the people and created a certain "buzz" around the city. Located on the Forecourt of the Victorian Arts Centre it was always a hive of activity from noon until late. Passersby could hardly fail to notice.
This year Callum Morton's sculpture/installation Valhalla occupied the same space. But it was never going to have the same social function as the Spiegeltent. The Tent also brought in audiences who would not otherwise attend mainstage Festival events. This year's Festival also seemed to have cut that crowd adrift.
The program seemed generally to move toward the more traditional, Euro-centric, arts-festival fare. Not that I am complaining about that. This is not about weighing up different artistic tastes. Its just an appeal to bring back - if not the Spiegeltent - some form of public gathering place for the life of the Festival. A good arts festival should be more than just a string of arts events!