Digital art guide to beat coronavirus closures

From virtual exhibitions and livestreamed concerts to online art auctions, this is our guide to how art is going digital in the age of COVID-19.
Digital art guide to beat coronavirus closures Michaela Burger and Greg Wain in Exposing Edith. Photo supplied.


Monday 30 March, 2020

The world may be in lockdown, but self-isolation doesn't mean we have to stop experiencing art. Despite COVID-19 closures, Australian art is finding new ways to go viral. Artists, museums, galleries, institutions, and more are exploring innovative ways to reach audiences, spreading some timely comfort and unity. Below is our ever-growing list of Australian art ready for you to discover.

Some events free, some are ticketed but we encourage you to make a donation to these and other organisations if you enjoyed their performances.



Arts Centre Melbourne: Morning Melodies

Art Centre Melbourne invites audiences to watch a free stream of the Morning Melodies performances. The first live stream, accessed via the Art Centre Melbourne’s website, Exposing Edith was broadcasted on the 23 March at 11am, and is now available to view anytime on the Art Centre Melbourne’s Youtube Channel. Stay tuned for future offerings.

Australian Theatre Live: Online Theatre Festival

Australian Theatre Live is launching their first online streaming festival this week. Online audiences will be able to access, for free, Australian theatre captured live on stage. The performance will be broadcasted through the Australian Theatre Live Facebook page. The Sydney Theatre Company’s Wharf Revue – Celebrating 15 Years will be broadcasted on 27 and 28 March at 8pm AEST; David Williamson’s Emerald City will be livestreamed on 2 and 3 April at 8pm AEST; and Mary Rachel Brown’s The Dapto Chaser will feature on 10 and 11 April at 8pm AEST.

Cooped-Up Cabaret: Live Stream Variety Show

Melbourne based cabaret performer and producer, Sophie deLightful has devised a live stream variety show that will go live fortnightly from 4 April. Cooped-Up Cabaret will feature a rotating list of talented performers. The launch show is on sale now, and limited to 100 attendees. Each registration costs $15 and viewers have the ability to comment and tip performers.

Fishlace Jones: This is Acting

Created by Charlie Ranger, Fishlace Jones: This is Acting is a five-part web-series available on YouTube. The story revolves around Australia's Best-Known Unknown Actor, Fishlace, as he takes a Masterclass with five actors.This comedy series was created to be released with the comedy show FISHLACE JONES Masterclasser at this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

John Foreman’s Aussie Pop Orchestra: What a Wonderful World

John Foreman’s Aussie Pop Orchestra and friends have ‘phoned in’ an isolation orchestra performance of What a Wonderful World, made famous by Louis Armstrong, to raise awareness of music industry charity Support Act. Support Act is Australia’s only charity delivering crisis relief services to artists, crew and music workers. You can make a donation to Support Act via its website.

Marian Street Theatre for Young People: #nowwemake2020

A not-for-profit organisation, Marian Street Theatre for Young People is running an online art campaign to encourage children to send through any art they make – drawings, poems, scripts, a dance, and more. Marian Street Theatre for Young People is asking young people to "show us a snapshot of their lock down life". The aim is to document the experiences of young people in this incredible period of change.

MSO: Thursday Night (in) at the Symphony

Following on from the success of two livestreamed events last week, which were collectively viewed by more than 100,000 people, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO) is offering: Thursday Night (in) at the Symphony, a new premiere concert series every Thursday evening at 7.30pm on the MSO YouTube channel. And from the weekend of 28-29 March the MSO will also present a series of pre-recorded chamber ensemble concerts curated by Principal Viola Christopher Moore, streamed each Sunday at 3pm.

PSO: #BachintheBathroom

In the lead up to Bach’s birthday (31 March) and in unity with Perth Symphony Orchestra (PSO) violinist Julia Watson’s #Bachaday campaign, #BachintheBathroom is designed to inspire everyone to pick up their instruments and stay connected. People around the world are asked to take a video of themselves playing their favourite piece of music by Johann Sebastian Bach – in the bathroom – and upload to Instagram or Facebook with the hashtags #BachintheBathroom and #Bachaday.

QSO: Concert over the Fence

On 18 March, Queensland Symphony Orchestra (QSO) launched its first Concert over the Fence video. The first video features QSO Concertmaster Warwick Adeney and Section Principal Flute Alison Mitchell getting together over a fence to keep the music alive. Concert over the Fence will be released every Friday on QSO’s YouTube channel and social media platforms.

Riverboats Music Festival: The Lounge Room Sessions

Riverboats Music Festival has launched a new platform called The Lounge Room Sessions to help put money directly into the hands of Australian performing artists. The first session was streamed on 25 March at 8pm AEDT. Each night an Australian solo artist or band will perform a 20-minute set from their lounge rooms, which will be broadcast via Facebook Live. A link will be included alongside each post where viewers can make an optional contribution to the artist via a dedicated fundraising page, administered by TryBooking. 100% of all funds received will be paid directly to the artist.

TSO: #TSODailyDose

Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra has launched a new digital project: #TSODailyDose. As of 25 March, TSO will release digitally engaging content daily at 8am. The daily dose will include footage from recent concerts, tracks from the TSO’s extensive recorded archive with newly created imagery, interviews, show-and-tell demonstrations and chamber music performances.  

Tuck Shop Ladies: Online Concert

The Tuck Shop Ladies, a partnering of Australian folk musicians Sam Lohs and Rosie Burgess, will present their show: All up in my dial up as a Facebook LIVE concert.

All up in my dial looks at life’s pertinent issues and gives a peek into the personal relationship of touring musicians. You can support the Tuck Shop Ladies by purchasing a $10 ticket to the concert.


ACMI: Virtual Cinémathèque

Australian Centre for the Moving Image’s (ACMI) Cinémathèque screenings, held on Wednesdays at The Capitol, has now been moved to a weekly Virtual Cinémathèque screening every Tuesday. ACMI will release details of the weekly Virtual Cinémathèque via its social media channels. ACMI is also partnering with Media Mentors to create twice-weekly micro-skills workshops for screen professionals and enthusiasts. New workshops will be uploaded to the ACMI YouTube channel at 10am every Wednesday and Friday.

ARTea: Art School's Challenge

For all the parents at home with little ones, ARTea Art School is running an art challenge as a school holiday activity. The challenge runs from Monday to Friday at 9am with a new theme posted on ARTea’s Facebook group. Children are encouraged to respond to the daily theme through all forms of media, including drawing, painting and sculpture, with parents sharing images of their child’s creation.

Biennale of Sydney: NIRIN

The Biennale of Sydney has announced it will make the move to a digital experience. Working with long-time Biennale partner Google – and in a first for the Biennale of Sydney – audiences around the world will be able to engage with NIRIN through live content, virtual walk-throughs, podcasts, interactive Q&As, curated tours and artist takeovers on the Google Arts & Culture platform. 

Blue Mountains Cultural Centre: VIRTUAL INSIGHTS

Blue Mountains Cultural Centre has launched the VIRTUAL INSIGHTS program, a curated selection of digital content, featuring DIY art making activities, staff insights into the collection, exhibitions, book and game recommendations, wholesome food recipes from their café and more. The program will feature local artists, creatives and makers, and Blue Mountains Cultural Centre invites the public to contribute with their ideas and stories.

Castlemaine State Festival: online art auction

Castlemaine State Festival will be taking their biennial fundraising program online. The ten-day Castlemaine State Festival Art Auction begins on Friday 27 March with bids closing at 5pm on Sunday 5 April. As one of the Castlemaine State Festival’s main fundraising activities, the annual event aims to support the Festival as well as the many artists living and working in the region.

Dominik Mersch Gallery: online exhibitions

Dominik Mersch Gallery in Rushcutters Bay will be offering online showings of new works by Meng-Yu Yan, Peta Clancy and Piers Greville. Clément Cogitore's exhibition can also be viewed online through Dominik Mersch Gallery’s VIRTUAL TOUR, which offers an in-gallery experience of Cogitore’s cinematic and photographic works. 

Museums Victoria: Museums at Home

A new project from Museums Victoria: Museums at Home will enable the community to connect and explore. Events on offer include The Listies' LOLtastic tour of Melbourne Museum, a STEM fix from Scienceworks, and stories of human experience from Immigration Museum. Museums Victoria will be sharing educational experiences, quick Q&As with experts, live streaming virtual events and more. 

MPavilion 2019: podcast library

MPavilion 2019, designed by architect Glenn Murcutt AO closed on Wednesday 18 March, however 52 new podcast recordings featuring Glenn Murcutt, Green MagazineBlakitecture, AsiaTOPA, Eugenia Lim, the Archibald Prize, the Louvre Museum, Indigenous Astronomy and many more can be found on the MPavilion website.

Newcastle Art Gallery: Virtual tour

Recorded in January 2018, the exhibitions PAINTING MEMORY: From the collection and EVERYTHING CHANGES: Tim Maguire 2002 - 2017 have been documented in a 3D showcase of the Gallery building, recording some of the most iconic works of art from Newcastle Art Gallery's collection as an interactive and educational online resource.

NFSA: #NFSAOpenOnline

National Film and Sound Archive Australia (NFSA) will be offering new content every fortnight via its social media channels. Social posts will help highlight key items from the collection along with unique and behind-the-scenes content.  

NGV opens its virtual doors

Virtual tours, online collection galleries, eBooks and activities for children will be available via the NGV website and social media channels. During the temporary Gallery closure new content will be uploaded to the NGV Channel regularly. Exhibitions Keith Haring | Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines and KAWS: Companionship In The Age Of Loneliness will be available as virtual tours.  

Tjanpi Desert Weavers: Weaving tutorial

Tjanpi Desert Weavers have made available an online weaving tutorial. Sit down with Tjanpi artist, Loria Heffernan and learn to make a basket of your own. Weaving can be a great way to release stress and calm the mind.

Writing and Publishing: Books, podcasts and virtual crowds

2020 Stella Prize: 2020 online announcement

The Stella Prize is inviting the wider public to the virtual awards ceremony for the 2020 prize. Tune in to the Stella Prize website from 8pm (AEST) on Tuesday 14 April 2020 to help celebrate the vibrancy and quality of Australian women's writing. The 2020 online announcement features guest speaker the Hon. Julia Gillard AC. Audiences will also hear from Louise Swinn, chair of the Stella judging panel on the evolution of Australia's national writing culture, along with other speakers yet to be announced.

2020 Australian Book Industry Awards: Virtual Awards

The Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA) will be a live streaming Virtual Awards Event. ABIA are throwing the doors open to everyone on Wednesday 13 May at 4:00pm. Join the virtual crowd and help celebrate the achievements of authors, publishers, editors, illustrators, designers, publicists and marketers. With the move to a digital platform, the ABIAs will be experienced in a new way, taking it from 500 invited guests to thousands of people across Australia and around the world.

ArtsHub: The ArtsHubbub

A monthly exploration of the Australian arts sector and the artists who inhabit it, the ArtsHubbub is a new podcast created by the ArtsHub editorial team. The latest episode delves into the topic of art as recovery during times of devastation and destruction. You can subscribe to the Arts Hubbub via iTunesGoogle, or Spotify, or your favourite podcast app.

Australian Book Review: the ABR Podcast

Released every second Wednesday, The ABR Podcast features a range of reviews, poetry, fiction, interviews, and commentary. In the latest episode, Poetry for Troubled Times, 18 artists – including John Coetzee, Robyn Archer, and Sarah Holland-Batt – read some of their favourite poems, works that resonate in these anxious times. You can subscribe to The ABR Podcast via iTunesGoogle, or Spotify, or your favourite podcast app. 

State Library of Victoria: free access

Australia’s oldest library is offering free access to a range of collections, e-resources and online services. There are 4.1 million digital collection items on the State Library of Victoria’s website along with a treasure trove of stories, galleries, exhibition content, videos, music and more. The Ask a Librarian service will also be available online from 25 March.

Terror Australis Readers and Writers Festival: TAF2020 Replay

From 26-29 March, Terror Australis Readers and Writers Festival (TARWF), based in southern Tasmania, is offering a full replay of all 12 of its TAF2019 Murder She Wrote Panel Sessions, courtesy of the TARWF podcast team at Living Arts Canberra. Inspired by Agatha Christie, join TAF2020 Replay for four days of virtual panel discussions exploring crime and mystery fiction written by women, followed by live Q&As online. 

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