Toowoomba’s surprise bid to become Australia’s cultural capital will be strengthened by a world-class street art festival this weekend.

Of course, if you haven’t been to Toowoomba in a while, the idea that ‘The Garden City’ could ever lay claim to being at the forefront of Australia’s arts scene might sound laughable.

But that was exactly what ArtsHub‘s Gina Fairley suggested last week, when she wrote that this regional Queensland city “might yet claim the crown” as Australia’s cultural capital.

Fairley based her claim on the fact that New York cultural influencers Sharon Louder and Hrag Vartanian have paid recent visits to Toowoomba, but this weekend, the First Coat International Art Festival — the annual celebration of Toowoomba’s impressive street art scene — will make an even more compelling case for the city’s cultural ascendancy.

A 30-strong line-up of artists from across the country and around the world will deliver a program of synergetic art experiences and each add their own mural to the First Coat Outdoor Gallery, which already contains over 80 urban artworks in the heart of town.

Headliners include US designer and letterer Lauren Hom, known for her bright colour palettes, playful letterforms, and work for clients like Starbucks, Google, AT&T, YouTube and TIME Magazine, and LA duo Cyrcle, known for their high-profile collaborations with Pharrell, Chad Muska, David Flores and Esthero, as well as for being spotlighted in the LA Times, LA Weekly and Huffington Post.

Lauren Hom

Image: Lauren Hom. Supplied.

There will be a bittersweet aspect to this year’s festival, with organiser Grace Dewar’s recent confirmation that this will be its final year — but of course, the Outdoor Gallery will live on long after the festival closes.

“It’s an absolute pleasure to contribute this catalogue of public art to the city of Toowoomba,” Dewar says.

“The reputation of Toowoomba as an artistic space is growing and I feel honoured to have played a role in that over the past four years. The First Coat Outdoor Gallery will continue to have a positive influence over our region and gives Toowoomba a gallery worth travelling for.

“In the future, we will continue to facilitate public arts projects and workshops within the area, and we’re excited to take elements of the First Coat model on the road, celebrating creativity with other regions.”

The First Coat Art Festival will take place in Toowoomba from Friday 19 May to Sunday 21 May with a free program of workshops, artists talks, live music, markets, exhibitions and youth activities. You can find programs and gallery maps at firstcoat.com.au.