WHEN Midsumma decided to host its inaugural Midwinta Black Tie Gala Ball this August, it did so to fill a gap in Melbourne’s LGBTI cultural calendar.

And since the event was announced in April, the organisers have worked to build a festival in its own right surrounding the gala ball.

Apart from the black tie gala ball, several other events have been confirmed as part of the line-up for the inaugural Midwinta Festival.

The ball itself is a fundraising event that aims to grab the attention of both the LGBTI community and its allies outside the city’s festival season running through the first few months of the year.

“Midwinta follows community feedback that Midsumma, Pride March, Melbourne Queer Film Festival and (Daylesford) Chill Out all occur at the start of the year, leaving a long gap in the GLBTI calendar,“ Midsumma chair Aaron Hockly said.

The gala evening will feature an exclusive performance from Indigenous soprano Deborah Cheetham and pianist Toni Lalich, as well as Midsumma’s favourite diva Dolly Diamond, revolutionary dancing group the Real Hot Bitches plus an outrageous fashion parade hosted by awarded milliner, Kerrie Stanley.

Similar to Midsumma, which is Victoria’s premier LGBTI pride and cultural event and one of the biggest in Australia, Midwinta has a focus on community, fundraising and networking, as well as reconnecting familiar faces in the cool, crisp winter months of Melbourne.

“Midwinta Festival is a chance for community groups who are already hosting individual events across the winter months, to coordinate our calendars in order to assist each other, create greater awareness for all events and bring the community together in winter, when the effects of physical and psychological isolation can really take hold,” festival manager Monique Thorpe said.

“We hope to see Midwinta grow from a relatively small festival in 2014, to a large community-orientated winter icon over the next three to five years.”

Funds raised from the festival will target the development of “new and aspiring talent” during next year’s festival, and organisers hope it will also build community and corporate interest in Midsumma outside of the usual festival season in summer.

Speaking to the Star Observer in April, Midsumma board member and chair of the Midwinta subcommittee Kate Wickett said the black tie gala ball itself would target LGBTI allies as well as community members.

In addition to addressing a gap in Melbourbne’s LGBTI event calendar, Wickett said she hoped the gala would attract people who may not usually visit city’s bars or clubs.

“[An event like this] appeals to a different demographic that doesn’t necessarily want to go to dance parties,” she said.

Wickett also also hoped that Midwinta could recur annually, pending its success.

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Midwinta Festival Preview:

STATUS

The Arts Centre Melbourne

July 23–27

Following the sell out Midsumma play-reading, STATUS has been developed into a full production being housed by the Arts Centre Melbourne in late July.

libeRATe at 

Art @ 1 Spring St

Opening August 5

Rat Simpson is the Midsumma Visual Arts Convenor and Deputy Chair, as well as a full time graphic designer and successful artist in her own right. Rat presents libeRATion, a solo exhibition that brings her professional training and street-art style together with magnificent results.

Team Melbourne 

Midwinter Mixer

August 2

Team Melbourne, the umbrella queer sporting alliance in Victoria, is hosting a mixer night for all current and potential players. It is a great chance to meet like-minded people and chat off the field/court/pool, etc.

GLOBE lunch 

CQ private dining room

August 8

Join the Gay and Lesbian Organisation of Business and Enterprise (GLOBE) for a lunch with IBM’s Gail Wittich as she presents and discusses IBM’s diversity journey in the lovely CQ private dining room.

Pride March Bake Off 

DTs Pub

August 9

What’s the easiest way to support Pride March’s 20th anniversary? Get baking. With a new timeslot, this much-loved event returns as part of the Midwinta Festival at its traditional home of DTs in Richmond.

Midwinta Gala Ball

Grand Hyatt Ballroom

August 15

As described by Midsumma Chair Aaron Hockly: “This is a night to frock or suit up (or both), enjoy a three-course meal, experience tremendous talent and dance the night away. The night aims to raise funds for Midsumma through an auction of goods and services generously donated by many businesses and individuals so come prepared to spend big.” The event will have live entertainment, plus DJ Kista on the decks all night. The official afterparty will continue at the cocktail lounge Ms Collins.

When This You See Remember Me, David McDiarmid exhibition 

National Gallery of Victoria

August 21

An after-hours viewing of the wonderful and inspiring works of David McDiarmid. Join for a wander in the gallery followed by an informal dinner and drinks nearby.

Medicated, by T J Bateson 

TacitContemporary Art

August 27

Midwinta closes with Tim Bateson’s exhibition Medicated. In 2013, Tim was diagnosed with Mantel Cell Lymphoma and has been undergoing treatment since. Reaction to being informed you have Stage IV Mantle Cell Lymphoma does not normally include planning a large-scale, three-week solo exhibition that includes raising money for the Peter Mac Foundation.

DETAILS: http://www.midsumma.org.au/midwinta

**This article first appeared in the July edition of Star Observer. The August issue has just hit the stands in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Canberra.  Click here to find out where you can grab your free copy.

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