Enlighten festival is Bendigo's answer to White Night after cash injection from Victorian government

A six-figure funding injection from the state government will see Bendigo stage its answer to White Night in 2018. 

First held last year, the Enlighten festival pairs young artists with more experienced mentors to create digital artworks projected onto buildings, shopfronts and laneways. 

Central Victorian MPs Maree Edwards, Jacinta Allan and Mary-Anne Thomas recently announced a $160,000 grant for next year’s edition of the festival.

It is understood iconic buildings throughout the Bendigo CBD, from Ulumbarra Theatre to the town hall, will provide bricks-and-mortar canvases for projected works.

Development for the festival will begin with a series of workshops in mid-late 2017, with the festival likely to coincide with Cultural Diversity Week in March.

City of Greater Bendigo arts and culture co-ordinator Maree Tonkin described the funding boost as “sensational”. 

“To be able to run that project again, and to have some significant funding that’s going to enable that project to happen on a much larger scale, is just terrific,” she said. 

“It’s like a little, mini White Night.

“So many artists and young people were involved in creating the (2016) content, so having something that’s appropriately resourced just means we can engage with many more sectors of the community, and anyone interested in getting involved will be able to do it.”

It was one of several arts funding announcements the region’s MPs shared on Friday.

The government also set aside $75,000 for the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Cooperation to employ a project officer to ensure central Victoria’s Indigenous population are involved in the Culture for Centre, a 12-month program of arts events destined for the region in 2018.

Local artists were also invited to pitch for funding that could make possible their own Culture for Centre events or projects, with grants between $1500 and $30,000 on offer.

Applicants must be based in the City of Greater Bendigo, Mount Alexander Shire, Central Goldfields Shire or Hepburn Shire. 

The cash boost for the arts is the latest in a series of developments for the sector since the Victorian government last year launched its Creative State policy.

An information session in Bendigo last week outlined plans for a creative industries hub inside the School of Mines building on McCrae Street.

The co-working space will offer arts professionals opportunities to develop their business.

Ms Edwards said the programs gave artists an “unprecedented” opportunity to showcase their talent.

“If you’ve got an creative idea to contribute, I encourage you to find out more about our grants program and apply,” the MP said.