‘Ministers’ appointed to Festival ‘Cabinet’

Press Release 16 May 2011

The inaugural Kalari-Lachlan River Arts Festival to be held in Forbes on 3-4 September 2011 will be hosted by a ‘Cabinet’ of twelve ‘Ministers’, each of whom will be responsible for a portfolio of Festival events and activities, ranging from stage performances, busking and lantern making, to exhibitions, markets and creative sports.

The Ministers were elected to the Festival ‘Cabinet’ at a community meeting on Friday 13 May in the Forbes Sports & Recreation Club. They now have just four months to plan the Festival, to confirm all funding, and to encourage musicians, visual artists, crafts workers, writers, performers, creative producers, traders and volunteers  from throughout Central Western NSW to be involved. They must also inspire lovers of arts and crafts to visit Forbes for a spectacle they will never forget.

The Festival Cabinet includes Ministers for Schools Participation, Sound and Staging, Busking, Visual Arts, Writing and Reading, Children’s Activities, Indigenous Arts, Lanterns, Mental Health, Healing Arts, Land & Water Management, Cabaret, Finance, and Creative Sports. Each of the new Ministers brings a lifetime’s experience in relevant fields to their roles. The Minister for Busking, Robert Hoswell, President of the Forbes Country Music Club, for example, has been attending the Tamworth Country Music Festival for many years, and will be drawing on this experience in planning the busking venues and program for the River Arts Festival.

The two co-Ministers for Schools Participation, Johana Serplet and Linsey Robb, from North Forbes Primary School, also have years of experience between them in arts education and inspiring young people’s creativity. They will work closely with Festival Director, Stefo Nantsou, from Sydney Theatre Company, who will be visiting schools in the region, including Forbes High and Red Bend Catholic College, to help students develop their Festival performances.

One of the Festival’s most unique portfolios is that of the new Minister for Lanterns, Forbes artist Ro Burns, who is organising a series of community workshops to teach people how to make their own decorative paper lanterns for the River Arts Festival’s Lantern Parade. The workshops will be conducted by Jyllie Jackson, Artistic Director of the now-famous Lismore Lantern Parade, through a grant from Regional Arts NSW’s Country Arts Support Program.

A Minister for Land & Water Management was also appointed in acknowledgement of the many creative insights primary producers bring the resource management decisions they make on their farms and in their back yards. Forbes Deputy Mayor and local agronomist, Graham Falconer, accepted this portfolio, and has since agreed to sponsor a Farmers’ and Landcarers’ Tent at the Festival site through Pro-Ag, the agricultural supply company he is associated with. This tent will be a Festival ‘home-away-from-home’ for the region’s farmers, pastoralists, horticulturalists, viticulturists, home gardeners, even jam makers and fruit preservers.

The Minister for Land & Water Management will work closely with other Ministers, including the Minister for Mental Health, Di Gill, a Rural Mental Health Consultant based in Condobolin. Ms Gill will co-host a Beyond Blue Bowls Tournament with the Forbes Sports and Recreation Club on Sunday morning, 4 September, as part of the River Arts Festival. Bowlers and their families from throughout the Lachlan Catchment will be invited to participate in this very social competition. Di Gill and her colleagues will also be available for quiet chats about mental health and other issues before, during and after this event.

The Forbes Sports & Rec. Club will play an important additional role as the Festival Lounge and Green Room.

“We’re really excited to be so involved in the Festival in this way,” Lyn Ford, the Club’s manager and now ‘Lounge Minister’ said. “People will be able to come into the Festival Lounge to relax and enjoy refreshments in an environment where alcohol is permitted, which means that we won’t have to worry about alcohol in the public areas outside. Festival patrons will also be able to enjoy an art exhibition by Forbes Arts Society in the Lounge, plus wine tastings courtesy of Lachlan Valley wine producers, for example.”

In recognition of the fundamental role volunteers play in the success of any festival, the new Cabinet has appointed a ‘Minister for Angels’. Melody Ruhrmund, a visual artist, has accepted this quirkily named portfolio and will be working with the Festival Director and local organisations, including Forbes College For Seniors, the Men’s Shed and Service Clubs, to encourage people to don their ‘haloes’ as volunteer guides, tent installers, site managers, mechanics, bartenders, waiters or waitresses, parking attendants, public relations officers, sound engineers, and gofers, for example.

“The ‘Angels’ will make a really important contribution to this Festival,” Ms Ruhrmund said. “And being an ‘Angel’ will be a lot of fun. Really sociable and satisfying.”

The inaugural Kalari-Lachlan River Arts Festival on 3-4 September will be directed by Stefo Nantsou and feature the premiere of the Kate Kelly Song Cycle by composer Ross Carey and Forbes-based writer Merrill Findlay, plus hundreds of other performances, exhibitions and activities. It will also open the NSW State Landcare and Catchment Management Forum which will be held in Parkes the following week.

For more information, please see the interim Festival web site, www.merrillfindlay.com. Or Email Merrill[at]merrillfindlay.com.

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