HYPERLOCAL is a collaborative program between an artist or collective and four presenting partners across Melbourne – Abbotsford Convent (Abbotsford), Dancehouse (Carlton North), Darebin Arts (Northcote) and The Substation (Newport) – coordinated and produced by Performing Lines.

The inaugural program of Hyperlocal was launched late 2021 for completion across 2021-2023. We  invited artists to respond to the opportunity to work “hyperlocally” with us through an open EOI process. This response could be a work which is new, re-imagined, physical, and/or virtual, developed in some spaces and presented in others – and everything beyond or in between.  The project is a rare opportunity for experimentation and play, with a chance to engage with up to four unique audiences, communities and spaces.

As part of the opportunity, the successful artist was given time, space and resources towards the creation of a new performance work. This  program explores new ways for artists and presenters to work collaboratively to generate experiences for our communities hyperlocally. It’s a new way of working and ongoing experiment into how how artists and presenters might work together to shape the future of the sector.

The program is designed to be responsive to how artists might approach this opportunity across our physical and digital contexts. Given the post-COVID context in which we live the partners will work with artists’ creative ideas as well as our own experiences so as to ensure collaboration may have built-in flexibility to navigate any unforeseen obstacles.

Working together through the inaugural program and any future iterations we want to celebrate artist across all our arts venues and communities and learn together about how this mode of “presenting” work impacts locality and community ecologies. It is a new frontier to which the artist(s) are central. Through this program we will endeavour to enliven our practice and our communities and deepen our “togetherness” rather than separateness.

Key Details

Inaugural Hyperlocal Program

What you get

  • An investment of $26,500.00 in realising your idea.
  • Space and support to develop and present your work at Dancehouse, Abbotsford Convent, Darebin Arts and The Substation, or any combination thereof.
  • Producing support from Performing Lines.
  • Production support including:
    • Production and tech support
    • Hire of venue production equipment (where available)

Key Selection Criteria

  • The proposal presents a compelling and innovative contemporary creative performance idea.
  • Provide a top-line budget. The concept is realistic in scale for the available funds.
  • Must be a Victorian based artist.

What you need to do

  • Develop a brand-new contemporary performance idea that incorporates the four venues in a creative and engaging way.
  • Present some form of outcome. There must be at least one public outcome to take place at Darebin Arts. This can take any shape you like and does not have to be your typical end of development showing. We encourage new, bold ideas!
  • Consider what access components should be factored into your new work as part of your development.
  • Attend check-in meetings at various intervals with the venue partners to provide project updates.
  • Document your work and process as part of your development so that it can be shared with the venue partners.
  • Participate in a project debrief with the presenting partners and Performing Lines.
  • Be open – it’s a brand new approach for all of us that could generate a new way of working!


Applications are currently closed for Hyperlocal. Expressions of interest for future iterations of Hyperlocal will be advertised on our website and social media and details will be hosted here.

Be sure to check our website for updates.

The inaugural artist selected for Hyperlocal in 2021 is Victorian based multidisciplinary artist, Samara Hersch. As part of this pilot program, Samara has worked with Abbotsford Convent, Dancehouse, Darebin Arts and The Substation, as a consortium of arts organisations to develop an innovative new performance work.

Samara’s project, It’s Going to Get Dark, considers how critical and radical perspectives might emerge whilst sitting in the dark with other human and non-human bodies. This new work continues Samara’s investigation into critical trans-generational discourse and the potentials of performance as conversation.

Samara’s pitch involved conducting four different labs in each organisation exploring: working intergenerationally (Abbotsford Convent); social choreographic practices (Dancehouse); the materiality of light and darkness (Darebin Arts); and sound spatialisation and design (The Substation). Over the course of the project Samara has worked with a team of exciting artists from various disciplines.

Exemplifying Samara’s ability to move between the live, the virtual, and a multiplicity of simultaneous spaces, It’s Going to Get Dark was selected for its rich creative offering, its unique engagement of each Hyperlocal partner and their distinct communities, and its potential to forge exciting new linkages across Melbourne.

Inaugural Recipient

On being selected as the inaugural recipient, Samara has said:

Its Going To Get Dark questions what it means to assemble, to listen, and to attempt to navigate the unknown together. I am thrilled to embark on this research in the context of the Hyperlocal commission and to consider new ways of developing work in conversation with multi arts centres and local contexts. As my practice is research based, participatory and is developed by working closely with local communities and test audiences, I see this as a unique opportunity to build meaningful connections and to let these encounters and local perspectives inform the way the work continues to develop.”


A motif of Samara’s work is the bringing together of people who may otherwise be separated—be it by age or by place—into critical conversation.

Samara Hersch's black and white headshot. Samara stares down the camera and smiles. She has close cropped dark hair and a hoop earring in her right ear. She wears an oversized light t-shirt with a black emblem in the centre. Samara Hersch by Pier Carthew

Samara Hersch Biography

Samara Hersch is an artist and director whose practice explores the intersection of contemporary performance and community engagement. She recently completed her Masters at Das Theatre in Amsterdam. Her current research is an exploration into public acts of intimacy through imagining new artistic frames for non-professional performers and audiences to inhabit.

Her recent body of work focuses on critical trans-generational dialogue with an enquiry into conversation as performance. These works include: Body of Knowledge, a work that invites teenagers to host conversations with adults regarding questions they have about the body and body politic (presented at BUDA, Belgium 2020, SICK! Festival, Manchester 2019, Liveworks Festival, Sydney 2019, Spielart Festival Munich 2019); Sex and Death an intimate encounter led by performers in their seventies (Festival of Live Art, Arts House 2016, Victorian Seniors’ Festival 2016, Modestraat, Amsterdam 2019); Dybbuks– a feminist conversation with the dead (Chamber Made 2018), For the Time Being a remote, inter-generational encounter (Auawirleben Festival, Bern 2020, Kammerspiele, Munich 2020, Far Fabrique, Nyon 2020, West Kowloon, Hong Kong 2021).

Some of these works have recently been adapted to remote experiences in response to the pandemic; (Sex and Death and the Internet, commissioned by Darwin Festival and Sydney Festival through the Major Festivals Initiative in 2020 and Body of Knowledge – At Home, co-commissioned by Zurich Theater Spektakel and Kampnagel Sommerfestival, 2020). Body of Knowledge- At Home was selected for Impulse Theatre Festival, Germany (2021).

Samara has recently been an artist in residence at Theatre Rotterdam and is part of the EU Network; ACT; Art Climate Transition.

Samara acknowledges that her practice has been developed and presented on the lands of the Kulin Nation whose sovereignty has never been ceded and pays respect to Elders past, present and emerging.

Click here to read Samara’s full biography.

In everything we do, we acknowledge that we live on Aboriginal land and constantly learn from the wisdom of First Peoples.

Where we are and the history that precedes us informs how we work and how we move forward.