Media releases

Now or Never returns to Melbourne this August

20 June 2024

The City of Melbourne’s newest major festival, Now or Never, will return this August following a phenomenal debut last year.

From Thursday 22 to Sunday 31 August, the adventurous festival is set to make a stunning comeback with a vibrant program of over 100 free and ticketed events and sessions exploring art, ideas, sound and technology. 

More than 250 local and international creatives, musicians, artists and thought leaders will take over iconic venues across Melbourne – presenting immersive digital art experiences, cutting-edge performances, groundbreaking music and captivating talks. 

This year’s festival theme, ‘Look through the image’ invites audiences to interrogate what’s in front of them to explore deeper meanings and contemplate the layers of symbolism and hidden messages within.

Now or Never 2024 program highlights include:  

  • A return to the Royal Exhibition Building (REB) – featuring large-scale live music and audio-visual projection works across four nights. The stellar lineup includes multi-instrumentalist, composer and vocalist, Eartheater, techno pioneers Sandwell District, Portuguese-born Danish singer, songwriter and record producer Erika De Casier, an Australian debut from COUCOU CHLOE, renowned Australian-born musician Ben Frost, electronic artist and First Nations Wiradjuri woman Naretha Williams and prominent British electronic musician Clark. Globally celebrated Italian techno DJ Donato Dozzy will also headline a night co-hosted by Untitled Group.
  • French artist Joanie Lemercier from Studio Lemercier will present Constellations – a large-scale celestial formation which will hover above its own shimmering reflection on the Yarra River’s surface along Southbank after dark.
  • Making its Australian debut after premiering at the Venice Biennale 2022, artist Marco Fusinato will present DESASTRES a radical live noise-guitar performance project that synchronises sound with image in the form of a durational solo performance installation. Fusinato will perform this momentous work at NantStudios in Docklands cinema studios, home to the largest LED volume screen for virtual production in the world.
  • London based art practice United Visual Artists (UVA) will present two large scale works, Silent Symphony and Present Shock II, plus an audio-visual piece as part of the REB music program. Silent Symphony features a sonic interpretation of celestial patterns with composition and sound design by composer Ben Frost, while the installation Present Shock II collapses real-time information about the world into ‘post-truths’ and ‘alternative facts’.
  • Commissioned by Now or Never in a world-exclusive, iconic Melbourne act HTRK and British electronic musician Actress will come together to perform at the Melbourne Recital Centre for an incredible one-night-only collaboration.
  • Bestselling author, professor and renowned opinion writer for The New York Times Roxane Gay will return to Melbourne for one night only to discuss her latest celebrated book Opinions: A Decade of Arguments, Criticism, and Minding Other People’s Business.  
  • In a Victorian premiere, Wuigada – Gagada (To Sing – Loud) celebrates the work of prolific First Nations songman and proud Mutti Mutti, Yorta Yorta and Nari Nari man Kutcha Edwards. Fronted by Kutcha’s soulful vocals and gregarious nature, the collaborative reimagination of this work with the Australian Art Orchestra creates space for experimentation by some of Australia’s most creative jazz and improvisation artists. 
  • The Australian premiere of Peder Bjurman’s Slow Walker, a fascinating Augmented Reality experience which allows users to see an ordinarily microscopic Tardigrade – an enduring organism also known as a ‘water bear’ – transformed into a colossal being hovering and interacting with its surrounds above the Melbourne Museum Plaza
  • In a Victorian premiere, UK electronic musician Clark and award-winning choreographer Melanie Lane will present MOUNTAIN, an evocative contemporary dance performance with breathtaking costumes by designer Akira Isogawa.
  • World premiere dance performance Plagiary created by multi-award-winning dance technologist and choreographer Alisdair Macindoe, with AI video by acclaimed media artist Sam Mcgilp. Plagiary is an entirely new show created every night before audiences’ eyes – featuring ten exceptional contemporary dancers improvising each performance live, as it’s dictated to them by a computer presence.    
  • World-renowned mycologist and author of Entangled Life, Merlin Sheldrake, joins Now or Never audiences live on screen at Melbourne Museum for Fungi Futures – A Web of Wonder, an in-depth discussion hosted by multi-award-winning ABC journalist and presenter Natasha Mitchell.
  • World premiere of kajoo yannaga (come on let’s walk together) –an interactive virtual gamified walk on Countryguided by First Nations knowledges by Wiradjuri-Scottish artist, April Phillips.
  • Cutting-edge arts collective SOFT CENTRE makes its long-awaited Narrm debut with SUPERMODEL – an expansive three-day program of ecstatic performances, deep-dive keynotes, screenings and workshops unfolding in the State Library of Victoria with Mckenzie Wark, Pseudo, Alexander Powers, Marcus Whale, Tomomi Adachi, Lolina, DeForrest Brown, Jr. and many more.
  • Creators Xanthe Dobbie and Harriet Gillies will present Queer Powerpoint, an experimental performance series bringing together queer artists to explore and share an idea, current obsession, or ongoing fascination using the most ubiquitous of programming tools – PowerPoint.

Now or Never is proudly presented by the City of Melbournein partnership with foundation partners, Moon Dog Craft Brewery and Museums Victoria, event partners NantStudios and Rydges Melbourne, and media partners Beat, Broadsheet, Concrete Playground and RRR.

Now or Never will take over Melbourne from Thursday 22 to Saturday 31 August. Tickets are on sale now. To purchase and to explore the full program, visit Now or Never.

Quotes attributable to Lord Mayor Sally Capp

“Melbourne, it’s Now or Never! The return of this extraordinary festival will enrich our events calendar, boosting visitation for our traders and stoking our economy during the traditionally quieter winter period.”

“From thought-provoking performances to late-night cultural experiences, the festival supports artistic talent and encourages knowledge, curiosity and creativity.”

“Now or Never is set to draw over 200,000 visitors to the city – welcoming audiences with a variety of events across some of Melbourne’s most iconic venues, including the renowned Royal Exhibition Building.”

Quotes attributable to City Activation portfolio lead Councillor Roshena Campbell

“Last year, Now or Never became Melbourne’s newest major festival – drawing big crowds, supporting more than 1,500 jobs and injecting almost $14 million into the local economy.” 

Now or Never is a lucrative addition to our city’s cultural and events calendar– providing another fantastic reason to enjoy everything Melbourne has to offer during the winter months.” 

Quotes attributable to Museums Victoria CEO and director Lynley Crosswell:

“Melbourne Museum and the Royal Exhibition Building are vital elements in Melbourne’s cultural identity. And as centres of wonder and discovery, the perfect venues to host the brilliant homegrown and international program of bold art, creative ideas and future thinking that is Now or Never 2024.” 

Share this story

Subscribe to our newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the City of Melbourne by subscribing to the Melbourne newsletter.

You have successfully subscribed!