The State Library of Victoria is known for its vast collections and grand architecture. If you’ve ever been told off for talking or snacking in there, you’ll know it has a strictly enforced set of rules, too. So how the hell did the organisers of Melbourne Music Week (MMW) get approval to hold a week’s worth of gigs and dance parties there?
“The State Library was very welcoming when we approached them,” says MMW event manager Elise Peyronnet. “They were very open to making the library more lively. And aside from the fact certain features are heritage-protected [for instance, organisers aren’t allowed to attach anything to the walls], we weren’t faced with too many limitations.”
Queen’s Hall, which hasn’t been open to the public for 10 years because of its state of disrepair, will be the main performance space throughout the week. But between November 11 and 19, the public will be free to party there until the early hours of the morning.
“[The library staff] weren’t phased by the fact that we’ll be playing loud music in the library – in fact, they’ve actually contributed to our programming,” says Peyronnet. “For instance, they’ve got an amazing record collection, and they’ll be holding a mini record fair in the [La Trobe Reading Room] during MMW.”
La Trobe Reading Room – a popular study space – will also be kept open some nights for study. MMW has taken measures to soundproof Queen's Hall, meaning students can hit the books then hit the D-floor.
Eating and drinking will also be allowed. A bar serving drinks and bar snacks will be set up in Queen’s Hall. You don’t have to worry about spilling your drink over the library’s expensive collection; the room’s books have been transferred to the La Trobe Reading Room.
While Queen’s Hall will mostly function as a night-time space, there’ll be free performances on the library’s forecourt each day – from Morning Ritual gigs, through to lunchtime shows and evening DJ sets.
This year MMW has also partnered with Deliveroo for outdoor food service. Ordering stations will be placed around the forecourt and a pop-up kitchen will host a rotation of chefs from iconic Melbourne restaurants. So far 400 Gradi has been confirmed alongside a few others.
Peyronnet says tremendous effort is made each year to choose an extraordinary location for MMW’s annual hub, the epicentre of mostly free performances over the week.
In previous years, the hub has taken over the old Royal Women’s Hospital, the Queen Victoria Market and the abandoned Argus Building.
“Ideally, we look not only for spaces that are big enough and central enough, but for landmarks that showcase Melbourne’s history and culture,” says Peyronnet.
“We actually met with The State Library of Victoria a few years ago to see if it was possible to collaborate, but the timing wasn’t right. This year it was.”
This collaboration comes just before The State Library begins extensive renovations next year. In that sense, MMW 2016 may be your last chance to see Queen’s Hall as it is. And likely your only chance to see it at one o’clock in the morning.
Melbourne Music Week will run from November 11–19, 2016 at the State Library of Victoria and a variety of locations around Melbourne. Full program and tickets at mmw.melbourne.vic.gov.au.