White Night, which is the anglicisation of Nuit Blanche, was originally conceived in Paris, France in 2002, in an attempt to make art and culture accessible to large audiences, within public spaces.
Trevor Connell reports
300,000 people turned up for Melbourne’s inaugural White Night experience, far more than anyone expected. Except for Andrew Walsh, the artistic director.
Andrew only had four months to put the event together and in that time he visited the Nuit Blanche events in Paris and Toronto, so he knew what to expect but he had difficulty in convincing the Melbourne arts establishment that it would be a hugely successful event.
My own take on the success of the event is that social media played a big part. At 7 pm when the streets around Fed Square and Flinders St station were closed there were only a few thousand people around, however, once the sun set and the projections onto the buildings started to show I’m convinced that people in the street were posting pix and invites to their friends on Facebook , Instagram, Twitter, etc and this drew the thousands of people to the event.
Around 10 pm I saw a stream of trams pulling into the Arts Precinct tramstop that were packed as hundreds more joined the party. And speaking of party, I spoke to a Police sergeant on crowd control duty about the behavior of the crowds. He indicated that they had to deal with the “usual Saturday night drunks – but no more than the usual”. So despite the entry to Flinders St Station being turned into a rock stage, and the many thousands of people around – they were really there to enjoy the experience.
Interview with artistic director, Andrew Walsh at 5:30 am as the event was heading to the finish