The Spectrum Now festival March 1 – 16, 2016

“It’s clear that there is an appetite, a big appetite, for this type of festival. Long may it live and continue to provide immediate, surprising and accessible experiences from all forms of artistic endeavour.“ -Richard Roxburgh

Spectrum Now burst onto the Sydney festival calendar in 2015 in a blaze of creative partnerships, with Richard Roxburgh at the helm as director. More than 100,000 people took part in events all over Sydney, from film premieres with the stars and crowds rocking out at the Domain, to behind-the-scenes tours and hula hooping workshops. It was a terrific start to what we are determined will become a stand-out, highly-anticipated annual fixture on the city’s arts and culture scene.

At the first festival, we saw the amazing results of putting people, venues and genres together in new combinations. There were raucous show tunes around the piano with Marie’s Crisis, direct from New York, hosted by the cutting-edge QT Hotel. Gorgeous, other-worldly sounds soared at the Art Gallery of NSW with performances of the opera Orfeo ed Euridice . Creative power couples including Cate Blanchett and Andrew Upton, Richard Roxburgh and Silvia Colloca, spilt the beans on their relationships in the sell-out Pillow Talk conversation at Sydney Theatre.

Culinary darlings and experimental whizzes Black Star Pastry and N2 Gelato teamed up to create a mind-blowing dessert just for The Playground, Spectrum Now’s central event at the Domain.

These collaborations and countless others sparked a unique creative energy that drew people together to share the results.


For 2016, we have listened to feedback from our participants and audience and have made some changes to help define who we are and what we do. Our driving message: Spectrum Now is a festival of unique collaborations. It showcases Sydney’s inspiring and ever-evolving creative locals, and hosts international stars for in-depth events that are much more than a wave from the red carpet. Spectrum has been uncovering the stories of our artists for years; Spectrum Now brings these stories to life.

Spectrum Now encourages artists from every creative arena to take part and make exciting new connections. Is there someone you’ve always wanted to work with? Somewhere you’d love to make art? Something you’ve been thinking about trying? Now is the time to reach out and be bold. This is your festival. Together we will throw the spotlight on Sydney’s iconic venues, hidden treasures and fertile minds.

In 2016, the festival’s program will focus on four distinct event categories: art, music, stage and conversations.

This embraces everything from exhibitions to photography masterclasses, open studio trails to letterpress workshops.

2015 highlights: Australian premiere of artist Del Kathryn Barton and Brendan Fletcher’s The Nightingale and the Rose; SMH Portraiture exhibition in shipping containers; live mural painting in Newtown with Elliot Numbskull; festival of art printing at Signature Prints, home of Florence Broadhurst; Art of Distilling tour of Sydney’s first distillery to open in 160 years.

From classical to contemporary, if it’s got a tune or a beat, it belongs here.

2015 highlights: the crowd rocking out to the Cat Empire at the Domain; chamber opera Orfeo ed Euridice at the AGNSW; live show tunes sing-along from New York at Marie’s Crisis festival bar; Synergy Percussion making tropical sounds at the Australian Museum.

We’re talking theatre, dance, stand-up, circus, burlesque, poetry slams, drag lip-synchers or anything else that warrants a spotlight.

2015 highlights: Les Miserables Q&A with the creative team from London; Tamarama Rock Surfers Shabbat Dinner pop-up; Through These Lines, the unheard stories of WWI nurses, at Casula Powerhouse

Where the spoken word takes centre stage with face to face talks and experiences.

2015 highlights: Tim Ross talking architecture at Penelope Seidler’s penthouse; Sydney creative couples revealing what makes their relationships tick at Pillow Talk; Chris Rock, Alan Rickman and Jeffrey Tambor taking questions from the audience; Spectrum reader lunch at Otto Restaurant with Richard Roxburgh and the Spectrum team; Hipsters and Hops Brewery Tour.



Super-talented (and charming) actor, producer, writer and director Richard Roxburgh was always going to be a hard act to follow as our inaugural creative director. In 2016, Spectrum Now will have four creative ambassadors, each passionate and respected leaders in their fields, each representing one of the festival’s four categories: art, music, stage and conversations. Stay tuned for the passing of the baton when we announce our new ambassadors in the coming weeks.



To help define ourselves and keep our messaging simple and clear, all festival events will fall into four distinct categories.

ART. This embraces everything from exhibitions to photography masterclasses, open studio trails to letterpress workshops.

MUSIC. From classical to contemporary, if it’s got a tune or a beat, it belongs here.

STAGE. We’re talking theatre, dance, stand-up, circus, burlesque, poetry slams, drag lip-synchers or anything else that warrants a spotlight.

CONVERSATIONS. Where the spoken word takes centre stage with face to face talks and experiences.


Raising awareness of our event in our second year is top priority. Our marketing campaign will begin earlier and aim to reach a much broader audience. We will invest in extra resources to help us meet these targets.

This year we will introduce a dedicated customer service hotline just for you, our festival participants. We will be here to listen to you, connect with your event and provide help where we can. With improved resources across marketing and customer service, the result will be better communication and improved protocols from the festival team, and a lot more practical help where we can provide it.


Where available, each event will have one dedicated volunteer at your opening. Our festival volunteer will be there to take photos, hand out programs, and support you in your event production.


What does it mean to be part of the Spectrum Now community? In celebrating Sydney’s artistic and cultural life we want to support our community through partnerships, collaborations and celebrations. As a registered event of Spectrum Now we want you to be there at our launch party. We want to share the success of this festival with you by our side.

As a participating member of the Spectrum Now community you will receive a launch party invitation and artist/community passes for those working on your Spectrum Now event for VIP access, festival discounts and access to ticket giveaways.

To learn more about holding an event as a part of Spectrum Now,  click here to view our registration page.


Food and drink will still be an integral part of Spectrum Now in 2016.

If you are a restaurateur, and wish to join us at the Spectrum Playground in the Nosh Pit  contact us here.

If you are a wine bar, cocktail bar, restaurant or saloon, create a small plate and signature drink combination for $25 and join Quick Bites, a highlight of the festival program here.


There are a number of ways to be involved in the festival, outlined in our festival information guide.


Returning for the second year is the Nosh Pit at The Playground in the Domain from March 3-13. More information coming soon,  to express your interest click here. 


Whether you’re an individual, a group, company or school, join the festival family as a volunteer- we can’t do it without you!


Our partners are integral to making the festival bigger and better. In all shapes, forms and sizes, we welcome community and partner involvement.  If you are interested, email us here. 


Collaboration is the key. If you have an idea for the festival or for our outdoor event, please share it with us here. We will consider all suggestions and aim to bring the best collaborative ideas to life.

To receive more information, our trade press releases, updates and information on the wider Arts portfolio please click here.

Arts social club

The Spectrum Now Festival will run across Sydney from 1-16 March, with events in The Domain from 3-13 March.

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