Warrnambool's laneways the focus of five-month festival

WARRNAMBOOL’S laneways are a blank canvas for reviving the city’s central business district and local artists will add a splash of colour to launch a five-month gala focus.

The Hidden Histories Laneway Festival will start on January 11 in Ozone Walk, adjacent to the Koroit Street post office, featuring art demonstrations, live music, fashion parades, an artists’ market and children’s activities.

It will be followed by nine other events through to May, each with a different program at a different location showcasing local creativity.

The festival is the start of the long-awaited city centre revitalisation plan and is a partnership between the city council, state government and F Project, where one laneway will be given a major upgrade with a local history theme.

“People use these laneways as thoroughfares every day and we are keen to explore other ways in which they can be used to attract people to the city,” said council business support manager Tanya Egan.

“We want to draw on the creative capital of the community to show how our laneways can be better utilised.”

F Project vice-president Megan Nicolson said there was untapped potential.

“Just like the laneways, no two events will be the same, so we’d encourage everyone to get to as many as they can,” she said.

“It’s exciting to see something happening which will encourage people to congregate in the centre of town and enjoy displays and entertainment.

“This is a celebration of Warrnambool.”

Artists or businesses keen to get involved should contact Ms Nicolson or other project personnel at fproject.org.au

Earlier this month a weekend pop-up bar was opened in a Liebig Street laneway beside the Emperor’s Palace restaurant.

In August the Premier and South West Coast MP Denis Napthine announced a $150,000 grant, supporting $115,000 from council, to turn historic CBD laneways into popular visitor attractions and revive the flagging CBD.

The pilot project involves RMIT professor Paul Carter, who 

is a world authority on urbanism, architecture and design, investigating the history of street names, to be incorporated into laneways.

“Warrnambool City Council will be looking for ideas to turn laneways from being an embarrassment into something famous,” Dr Napthine said.

Businesses participating in the first festival event on January 11 include Sweezy Emporium, Oranges and Lemons, Totally Barking Vintage and Long Gone.

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