ART-traction: Combining Art with Alcohol Makes for a Fantastic Night out

The Australian Centre of Contemporary Art welcomed its first Art Bar of the year last Friday. It was a roaring success that according to organiser Claire Beynon drew a spectacular crowd. Driven by Audi (one of the more clever marketing lines in the event circuit) the night seamlessly marries contemporary exhibitions with a pleasant social atmosphere.

Seeing art after dark brings a level of intrigue and excitement that is often absent on a Tuesday morning class visit. If you were a keen follower of Babes at the Museum (highly recommended for any self-respecting aesthete, albeit as a guilty pleasure) this would be your Melbourne equivalent.

Art Bar features “amazing live music, the opportunity to catch the current exhibition before it closes, a happy hour with $5 wine and beer, great vibe.” It’s also cover-charge free, what’s there not to like?

Claire kindly answered few questions for us about the pleasant weathered event.

Tell us about the night?

Oscar Key Sung (of Melbourne duo Oscar + Martin) treated us to an incredible set, Two Bright Lakes DJs created a funkadelic playlist and our audience enjoyed catching Desire Lines for a final time before it closed on Sunday. There was a great vibe at ACCA with everyone chilling out, drinking and enjoying a great Melbourne evening out.

How long has the event been running for? What changes have you seen as the event has developed? How do you think the event is appealing to a new audience and raising interest in ACCA’s programming?

The Art Bar was first launched last September and we’ve held three so far. The Art Bar falls on the last Friday of each exhibition season (5 times per year). The major change this year is that we have teamed up with Melbourne label Two BrightLakes, who will be bringing their sensational artists to our stage for all Art Bars for 2013.

The ACCA Art Bar draws new audiences with the promise of great live music in a fantastic setting with a bar – in an art gallery! The amazing added bonus is that audiences can access the current exhibition during their time at the Art Bar. It really is an effective way to introduce new audiences to ACCA’s programs as many people attend the Art Bar with an interest in the live act and then go on to experience the exhibition.

What do you think is most effective when appealing to a young/ university student audience?

To put on an exciting, new event that is free! We also tailor our choice of live act to appeal to our younger audiences members. For each Art Bar we also have a happy hour from 6-7pm with $5 wine and beer. We know this is particularly attractive for our younger audiences!

ACCA ART BAR November 002

What is the importance of the event in the ACCA calendar?

The Art Bar is an opportunity for people to catch the current exhibition afterhours in its final days. For us it’s about trying out new ways to get new people involved with contemporary art. It’s a great atmosphere too – a very relaxed way to enjoy ACCA’s offerings.

What is in store for upcoming Art Bars?

The next exhibition is NEW13, which is ACCA’s annual commissions exhibition for promising Australian artists. It’s a great show where artists have the opportunity to make a new work and have it shown in ACCA’s grand exhibition hall. This will be the first Art Bar for a NEW exhibition, which has been running now for ten years, so it will a big one! We also have exciting new acts lined up for the rest of the year – watch this space for details!

Laura Phillips


Catalyst has been the student publication of RMIT University since 1944. We may be older than your parents but we’re still going strong!

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