Naarm/Melbourne will host a new festival, Now Or Never, over 17 days in August and September, with the first line-up announced featuring the likes of Kelela, Serpentwithfeet and Autechre.

The inaugural Now Or Never festival runs from Thursday 17 August to Saturday 2 September with a wide-ranging program of live music, art and culture. Most of the events will take place in the city’s iconic Royal Exhibition Centre, marking the first time it has been used for concerts in more than two decades.

First on the itinerary (so far) is an event called Never Permanent – ​​scheduled for Thursday, August 24 – which will be curated by the team behind creative design and technology festival Semi Permanent. According to a press release, Never Permanent (where the line-up has yet to be announced) will feature “thought-provoking keynote speakers and panel sessions with leading creative visionaries”.

Murray Bell, founder of Semi Permanent, said in a statement that his team’s new event “brings together the best creatives and innovators from around the globe, and we can’t wait to offer our platform to these world-renowned names in the industry.”

He added: “This line-up for Never Permanent is shaping up to be one of our best yet and we’re thrilled that this is part of Now Or Never.”

Also scheduled for August 24 is an interpretation of Steve Reich’s production ‘Music For 18 Musicians’, hosted by Orchestra Victoria; it will be accompanied by a 16 meter high video presentation developed by multimedia artist Jesse Woolston.

Another audio-visual presentation will be shown the following evening (25 August) with an event featuring live AV performances from the actress and Max Cooper – the latter of which will also be shown in 3D – as well as more traditional performances from Autechre and Giant Swan.

On Saturday August 26, Untitled Group will host a show with German house and techno producer Âme, with additional performances from Axel Bowman, Ayebatonye, ​​CC:DISCO! and Dameeela. Kelela’s show – billed as an exclusive to the Now Or Never program – rounds off the first announcement, scheduled for Sunday August 27 with support from Serpentwithfeet.

Tickets for all events announced so far are available here. In a statement shared by Naarm’s Lord Mayor Sally Capp, she highlighted the significance of the festival’s stay at the Royal Exhibition Centre. She said: “For the first time in more than two decades, Now Or Never will bring live music on a grand scale back to [venue] with an unmissable line-up that celebrates our incredible homegrown talent alongside ground-breaking work from international artists.

“Now Or Never will be an inevitable addition to our busy events calendar this winter – cementing Melbourne’s reputation as Australia’s cultural capital, boosting the local economy and supporting jobs.

“We are delighted to welcome Semi Permanent back to Melbourne with the addition of Never Permanent to our stacked Royal Exhibition Building line-up – where more than a thousand visitors will enjoy thought-provoking discourse from leading innovators and visionaries from around the world.”

Roshena Campbell (lead councilor for Naarm’s City Activation portfolio) added to the mood: “Now Or Never will explore the intersection of art, ideas, sound and technology – and we are so excited to announce the Royal Exhibition Building as one of our major event hosts.

“Set to attract more than 200,000 visitors to the city, this inaugural festival will add to our vibrant creative scene and invite even more visitors to explore the best of what our wonderful city has to offer.”

Also Melbourne Museum Chief Executive Lynley Crosswell said: “Melbourne Museum is thrilled to be part of the City of Melbourne’s Now or Never festival by hosting this incredible series of events at the Royal Exhibition Building. This festival will bring the Royal Exhibition Building alive with these eclectic musicians, groundbreaking performances and provocative lectures.”

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