2 February 2020

Canberra's non-traditional venue boom: Three events shaking things up this month

| Hayden Fritzlaff
Start the conversation
Nikki Stavridis is one of the many artists set to present their work at Renaissance this week. Photos: Supplied.

Nikki Stavridis is one of the many artists set to present their work at Renaissance this week. Photos: Supplied.

It’s official, summer is over. And if you didn’t get the memo, your favourite venue might be over too. Alright, that’s not strictly correct. After all, the community has proven its strength by saving the Phoenix from closure in recent weeks.

But the Phoenix is part of a bigger narrative, one that’s seen a string of vital live music venues shut down over the past 12 months (think ANU Bar, LoBrow in Garema Place, and The Front in Lyneham). It’s a lot to take in. Particularly when the silence of venues filling the void is so deafening.

“Don’t stop! This city is hungry for you,” reads a statement on You Are Here‘s, website. You Are Here are the pioneers of Canberra’s non-traditional venue boom, and Canberrans are taking their message to heart. Here are three blockbuster events taking place this month in the places you’d least expect.


Where: The Hamlet, Lonsdale Street
When: Friday March 2nd, 6 pm-midnight.

Renaissance is set to take over The Hamlet for one night only.

The inspiration for this once-off, all-out art party was a single glance across the road to the soon-to-be-demolished Hamlet in Braddon. The labyrinthine network of hallways and artist residences inside is being transformed into a distinctly DIY pop-up gallery, featuring works from locals Sancho’s Dirty Laundry, Sophie Dumaresq, Sol Grainger and more. Outside, your new favourite bands and poets are holding down one of the best-curated festival bills of the year, with local rap superheroes The Ansah Brothers, dream pop upstarts Neko Pink, and the future of the drum machine Kilroy joining a contingent of spoken words artists from BAD!SLAM!NO!BISCUIT!. Everything connects directly to the space it occupies, setting the scene for a cool-as-hell celebration of decay, rebirth, and restoration.

No Front Fences 2

Where: Various locations
When: Friday-Saturday March 16-18

The Mulgara team have put together an inclusive and innovative lineup for No Front Fences this year.

“One city, two backyards, three days.” That’s the tagline for the most wholesome music festival in town. Taking place in carports and backyards across Canberra, Mulgara art collective have lovingly curated an inclusive lineup of underground bands. No Front Fences is all about the connection between artist and audience, removing the physical and psychological barriers associated with big-ticket festivals. The by-product is a renewed sense of presence at each show, where a splintery backyard fence and fairy lights are the backdrops for artists like Sports Bra (SYD), Moaning Lisa (CBR), Teen Jesus and the Jean Teasers (CBR), and Carb on Carb (NZ).

Art, Not Apart

Where: NewAction Precinct
When: Saturday March 17

Alison Plevey of Australian Dance Party performing at the Shine Dome moat.

This year the perennially interesting arts festival is teaming up with the National Academy of Sciences, once again with a passion for non-traditional art spaces. At their recent media launch, members of Australian Dance Party were to be seen performing in the moat around the Shine Dome (the strange, mound-like building at the edge of the ANU). It was a bold statement about how art isn’t limited to a gallery, nor dance to a stage. Art connects us to the world we inhabit, and sometimes you have to splash around in a moat to remind yourself of that fact.

What do you see in the future for Canberra? Are traditional music venues and art spaces on the way out?

Check out our Gig Guide for upcoming world-class live music showcasing local talents, Australian artists, and international musical acts at some of the best venues in the country. Find out about the latest gallery and exhibition openings, new restaurants, all-day cultural events, family-friendly activities, and so much more. There truly is something on offer for everyone, no matter what tastes and interests you have.

Our What’s On page details the shows, events, and activities taking place over the coming days. We make it easy to plan your week, with all of the vital information in one place: when, where, who, and why.

So, get your diary ready and start making plans. It’s time to explore Canberra’s lively events calendar, and get the most out of life in our wonderful city.

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.