LIVE AT THE BOWL creates $27 million bonanza for the Arts


Over four incredible months, Arts Centre Melbourne’s Live at the Bowl festival has helped reinvigorate Victoria’s performing arts sector providing a $27 million injection to the Victorian economy, attracting nearly 100,000 people to the iconic Sidney Myer Music Bowl to witness 1,357 local artists back on stage where they belong.


“When the Victorian Government announced its intention to provide the people of Victoria with a summer of hope and happiness, returning live experiences to the community after the impacts of COVID-19, we were delighted to throw up our hands to be involved. With government support for Live at the Bowl, we could not have imagined how successful it would become. It has been our great privilege to transform one of Victoria’s most-loved outdoor venues into a symbol of joy and recovery,” says Arts Centre Melbourne CEO Claire Spencer AM.


Live at the Bowl enabled Victoria’s arts sector to get back to work by: contributing $27.26 million to the state’s economy; generating employment for 3,250 people including artists, arts workers, production crew, security personnel, and food and beverage staff; motivating 97,843 people to return to live performance, 91% of them traveling into the City of Melbourne specifically for the event; while 21% of ticket buyers purchased a ticket specifically to support the return of live performance in Melbourne. Just over 50% were first time ticket buyers to Arts Centre Melbourne while 56% of artists appeared on the Bowl stage for the first time.


“The Victorian Government was proud to support Live at the Bowl as part of our efforts to reactivate our creative sector and reconnect Victorians of all ages with the live music and performances they love and missed throughout 2020. The festival played a vital role in getting our artists back on the stage and our broader creative workforce back to work,” says Minister for Creative Industries, Danny Pearson.


One of the foundations of success for the festival was partnerships and collaboration. The Bowl was configured into a COVIDSafe venue, enabling sector-wide programming for audiences that would not have been otherwise possible. In all, Arts Centre Melbourne collaborated with 60 sector partners, including commercial presenters, community groups and non-profit organisations.


Throughout the season there were 49 events and 70 performances from symphonies under the stars to daytime dance parties, comedy extravaganzas, beloved bands, free events and family friendly concerts; there really was something for everyone to enjoy. But with affordability as a key priority, one third of performances had tickets available for $30 or less and 10 performances were free of charge to general public audiences.


As the largest outdoor amphitheatre in Australia, health and safety were also at the forefront of transforming the Bowl into a COVIDSafe space. The main lawn of the Bowl was fitted with purpose-built private decks where every audience member had the best seat in the house, separated safely from others, resulting in 98% of ticket buyers feeling safe and comfortable when attending a performance.


Photo credit: Mark Gambino