When the sun goes down on Wednesday July 24, the city’s galleries will come to life. A new event in Melbourne, Nite Art will see 21 galleries and artist-run spaces across the CBD and North Melbourne present exhibition openings, artist talks and art walks throughout the night. Offering a chance to talk about and experience art in a new way, the event is also about recognising the significant role that the gallery space has to play in contemporary art and wider culture.

Far from a rigid tour, Nite Art allows people to explore four creative precincts – Upper Bourke Street, Guildford Lane, Flinders Lane and North Melbourne – at their leisure and enjoy works from 56 different artists spanning a variety of media, including painting, photography, installation, sculpture and video.

Co-founded by Deborah Stahle, Nite Art is an extension of Artwalk Melbourne and was inspired by international events like Roppongi Art Night in Tokyo. Depending on its success this year, organisers are hoping that Nite Art can become an annual event.

“The art world is certainly evolving and changing and I think it’s becoming very audience and participation focussed,” says Stahle. “The art world is just wanting to become much more creatively open to people. And with that comes the need to look at the models and how art is presented and how that can actually open greater access and audience as well as engagement.”

Dr Wilma Tabacco, director of participating gallery Langford120, says now more than ever galleries are re-thinking their methods of operation and believes that such an initiative is worthwhile in order for Melbourne’s art community to continue to flourish.

“An event like Nite Art seems a positive first step in gathering forces to re-energise that which is ailing,” she says. “Initiatives that focus on collective action and co-operation between normally competitive entities is a good thing – to concentrate activity into a major event is even better.”