Kalari-Lachlan River Arts Festival: concept plan


By Stefo Nantsou
22 December, 2010

Stefo Nantsou (left), with the Mayor of Forbes, Councillor Phyllis Miller, Merrill Findlay, and Councillor Chris Roylances at the community consultation, 20 December 2010. Photo courtesy Forbes Advocate.

The town of Forbes has an excellent natural geography and town plan which could suitably host a Community Arts Festival. The many ideas which swirled around the room at the Forbes Sports & Recreation Club on Monday, 20 December,  indicated an exciting variety of options for the Arts Festival. I’d like to thank everyone for their enthusiasm.

A range of musical performances, theatre, art exhibitions, lantern spectacles, historical recreations, an epic Welcome-to-Country and an exciting blend of Indigenous, Anglo-Celtic, Chinese and other multi-cultural arts all seem more than possible for the inaugural Kalari-Lachlan Rivers Arts Festival.

The setting and venues

The shoreline outside the Club along Buck Bentick Way seems a perfect location to ‘base’ such a Festival. This setting would not only provide a great location for performances and presentations, including a lantern parade, for example, but would also give the many stallholders and service providers and sponsors a great location to sell their food and wares, promote their industries and advertise products in a safe, comfortable and extremely beautiful location. Fundamental things like power, lighting, staging, public toilets, parking, all seem to be accessible at or near this location, and it would be simple to make them available with the minimum of fuss.

Another option would be to set some events in the wonderful park and streets surrounding the Town Hall to take advantage of the town’s natural beauty. This would open countless possibilities for a parade and/or a series of events/performances from the Town Hall to Buck Bentick Way.

A series of events around the theme of the life and times of Kate Kelly – culminating in the Kate Kelly Song Cycle Premiere – would provide not only a central theme and focus for the Arts Festival, but also an easy springboard from which other performance pieces about Kate Kelly’s life and times, and/or similar themes, could be created and performed.

The Song Cycle Premiere and other key events would take place beside the lagoon at the far end of Buck Bentick Way, under a enclosed stage area with a series of marquees to provide cover for the audience in case of rain.  Smaller performance spaces would be scattered throughout the festival venues to enable local musicians and other groups to perform their music, short plays, poetry reading, dancing, rapping and story-telling events, for example. Space would also be set aside for art exhibitions and any range of other artistic endeavours at the park outside the Town Hall, or other locations around town (including the skate board rink, for example), or along the pathway leading to the ‘main stage’ at the far end of the Buck Bentick Way. The over-arching aim would be to maximize community involvement and to give voice and opportunity to all art forms and all arts practitioners.

The Way Forward

The way forward will include getting specific ideas for performances/ presentations/ exhibitions from the full range of musical, arts, performance and other groups wishing to be involved. Primary and High schools may be interested in creating something special for the day, for example. Once all groups can settle on what it is they would like to do, then it will be easier to co-ordinate the Festival’s shape and locations, and what would be needed for logistics and technical requirements.

I can imagine a map of the town’s performance/exhibition locations and a list of times and events being formulated in the next few months, with an overall program of events being ready by May. This gives the festival a full three months for all stake-holders and contributors to know what they’re heading for and how they’re going to get there.

There were far too many ideas expressed at our meeting last Monday for me to recount here, but overall, the mood was positive and the options were many … and my stomach is still full from a wonderful lunch.

Thank you one and all for the opportunity to work on what will no doubt be a very successful Arts Festival.

Stefo Nantsou

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Content posted online 25 January 2011 Last revised 31 January 2011. Permalink: https://merrillfindlay.com/?page_id=1854

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