In the glut of performance spaces littered across the 3000s, there is but a handful able to adequately cater for Melbourne’s burgeoning arts culture and the glorious many forms it takes. Venues oft prop artworks alongside photography, or pit theatre and comedy against dance and cabaret, with music a largely solo act. Cue Revolt Melbourne, the dynamic new addition to the city arts scene.
Grand plans for Revolt were rolled out with the acquisition of the Kensington site in 2009, when the brothers' Hodge and their long-time counterpart took up residence in the lair of the iconic Younghusband Factory. Artistic director Ryan Hodge maintains it was a scheme some 15 years in the making for he and co-directors Tim Fulton and Steve Hodge. “A bunch of us were in a production, acting and performance school in Queensland. We kind of had the dream back then and went, 'one day it would be great to create a production house of sorts that would aid and create productions, and that’s what it would all be about’, so it started with that as a seeding concept.”
Laying claim to a slew of Melbourne’s esteemed arts festivals, including 12 shows across five stages for each night of the Fringe Festival, as well as hosting the Live Music Safari for Melbourne Music Week, the journey for the unique performance space has been colourful to say the least. “Melbourne sees a lot of outlandish ideas... we didn’t want to be restricted in the types of shows that we could take and the things we wanted to do.” Restricted they are not; the creative licence allowed unto the artists sees the five main spaces overhauled with every performance, from stages built on pallets of dirt, to sets designed for horror-goth cabarets. Revolt’s multi-functional gallery is also home to regular artists-in-residence, and a cavalcade of local bands choose the purpose-built photographic studio to shoot their film clips.
Another major coup for Revolt was playing host to this year’s invitation-only Australian Independent Record Labels Association Awards. “AIR wanted a more intimate setting this year with a greater focus on the awards… it was a 500-seated affair and it worked a treat.” And it seems the AIR team were equally impressed, citing is as ‘the indies’ best awards ceremony yet’.
With his keen eye for production, Hodge is the first to recognise the value of promoting his performers. “We live streamed a gig on the weekend… it’s no skin off our back to do, and that in turn may get one band booked for (Austin’s music mega-fest) SXSW, it may give them one little break, which is worth more money than we could place a figure on. And that’s what we thrive on, on one person’s opportunity.” Money of course does play a factor, but Hodge asserts that Revolt’s priority remains the entertainment itself. “The whole industry thrives on money, but I don’t agree with it being the reason why you put things on; you should put stuff on based on passion, and the money should be the reward.” Someone tell that to the banks.