“Village” is a term that describes a community of people (a few hundred to a couple of thousand) living in the same rural area. Pre-Industrial Revolution, most humans lived in a village. In modern Australia, cities dominate (including regionally), many live in towns, but very few people live in what could be termed “villages”.


The term evokes community, intimacy, interdependence and a simple life. Many people aspire to the qualities associated with villages; this can be seen in the naming of heavily urbanised areas, such as New York City’s Greenwich Village. It is from this place that the disco supergroup “The Village People” got its name.


Twelve years ago, a group of visionary artists created “The Village” in regional Victoria. This was not an intentional community grounded in a particular location; rather The Village Festival of New Performance was created as a travelling arts festival. Wherever it travels, The Village seeks to bring a sense of “village life” to people. It does this through arts festivals known for their dynamic programming, community engagement and distinctive visual design. The Village has been presented 45 times across Australia.


From Friday 27 October to Sunday 29 October 2017The Village Festival returns home to Edinburgh Gardens, Fitzroy North. This is the festival’s twelfth year, so it is a bit of an institution, yet still somehow remains a secret.


This year’s festival sees artists of all dimensions gather together with the community to share their experiences, to reflect their creative capacity and deepen their understanding – all through performance, visual art, music, food and culture.


Enter through the intricate gateway façade, and discover an alternative utopian environment, where experimentation is the norm. The site is dotted by caravans and containers workshopping the ideas of the future. In the colourful tents, there is a groundswell of youthful exuberance and expression.


Maze of Motions is a collaborative work in development between regional and metropolitan artists from Macedon and Fitzroy North. Performance maker Zak Pidd and musician Adam Simmons have been mentoring a posse of young artists to generate a multi-modal art installation that explores the dynamics and complexity of emotions in the modern era. Prepare to be surprised and delighted.


Festival-goers can get further insight into the artistic process by seeing some of Australia’s leading artists present new works. For example, Snuff Puppets invites you to The Garden of Sorrows, a preview of their giant puppet adaptation of the illustrated book of fables by John Hughes and Marco Luccio in which iconic Australian animals take on human qualities.


The music program features the best of Melbourne’s emerging and established musos including Masco Sound System, The Number Nineteens, Copperhead Brass Band, Hello Tut Tut, Low Down Big Band, All Day Fritz, Blunderbus and Saray Iluminado. Across the weekend expect to hear everything from New Orleans jazz to Indo-grooves, and from hip-hop to gypsy.


The Village’s performance food stage The World Kitchen returns with a vengeance after stops in Tennant Creek (NT), Canberra (ACT) and St. Kilda (south-side!) earlier this year. The World Kitchen demonstrates ways people can connect and share stories over excellent food. It’s also downright fun. Keep your taste-buds tuned in for kids workshop, My Kitchen Sux with Emily Bloom, and the cross-cultural Every Bite Takes You Home.


As always, The Village encourages active participation. Opportunities to get creative include The Wedding FactoryThe Famous Village Dog Show, creative workshops and stalwarts like So You Think You Can Interpretive Dance and 10 Minute Dance Parties.


The Village is Australia’s travelling arts festival. Since its last incarnation in Edinburgh Gardens, it has visited Lorne, Marion Bay (TAS), Gasworks Arts Park, Central Victoria, Tennant Creek, St. Kilda and Canberra.


“This has been an exceptional year for The Village Festival. We travel purposefully to connect artists, audiences and communities wherever they roam. It is with pride we return to Edinburgh Gardens for our flagship event, sharing stories of these travels with our hometown folk”, says Suzanne Kalk, The Village Festival Artistic Director. “And over the next year we expect to see some of the experimental work premiered in Edinburgh Gardens travel to Village Festivals across Australia.”


Whilst art is the definite focus for The Village Festival, organisers recognise that art can’t sustain life alone. Edinburgh Gardens will also cater to all who enjoy good food and drink. From the best homemade ice-creams through to locally brewed beer, and from wood-fired pizza to Arabian tea, all palettes will be catered for.


And best of all, entry to the festival is Entry by Donation. Give what you can afford and according to how much you value what your experience.


See you at The Village!

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