Brisbane Festival kicks off amid COVID-19 border closures – and artists couldn’t be happier

Sponsored Video
Spread the love
  •  
  •  
  • 1
  •  
  •  
  •   
  •  
  •  
    1
    Share

Queensland’s hard border closure might be making Annastacia Palaszczuk some enemies in southern states – but most of her constituents couldn’t be happier.

Thousands of Queenslanders descended onto the streets of Brisbane on Friday, Saturday and Sunday to celebrate the opening of Brisbane Festival.

There were doubts the festival would even go ahead when the Sunshine State appeared certain to fall victim to a second wave of COVID-19 like in Victoria and New South Wales. 

But chief health officer Jeanette Young gave it the final tick of approval after working closely with organisers to ensure every single event in the program was COVID-compliant – and she even made an appearance at several of the performances.  

On Friday, performers took to the streets of South Bank, art installations littered the city and locals celebrated the state government’s ability to seemingly hold the deadly respiratory virus at bay.   

The festival kicked off with a Jumoo – or welcome to country – by the Sunshine Coast’s Gubbi Gubbi people and members of the Sunshine State’s indigenous community. 

On Friday, performers took to the streets of South Bank, art installations littered the city and locals celebrated the state government's ability to seemingly hold the deadly respiratory virus at bay

On Friday, performers took to the streets of South Bank, art installations littered the city and locals celebrated the state government’s ability to seemingly hold the deadly respiratory virus at bay

Thousands of Queenslanders descended onto the streets of Brisbane last weekend to celebrate the opening of Brisbane Festival. Pictured: Common People Dance Eisteddfod 2

Thousands of Queenslanders descended onto the streets of Brisbane last weekend to celebrate the opening of Brisbane Festival. Pictured: Common People Dance Eisteddfod 2

Brisbane city was lit up with a pulsing laser beam show and ethereal music, hoping to offer solace, guidance and inspiration to the public

Brisbane city was lit up with a pulsing laser beam show and ethereal music, hoping to offer solace, guidance and inspiration to the public

Jumoo means ‘smoking’ in the Turrbal language, and members of the community led the public, and esteemed guests including Dr Young, through a traditional ceremony as smoke billowed into the night sky.

Brisbane Festival’s Chair, Alison Smith, said it was a moment to allow the city to ‘reset, refresh and cleanse’ ahead of a month of exciting performances and events.

Minister for the arts Leanne Enoch told the crowd the festival signalled better times ahead for the industry after the crushing impact of the pandemic.

‘Culture heals everything,’ she said. ‘In this time, we need our culture to heal us. We need a way of expressing our humanity and identity.’

‘The arts sector was one of the first impacted due to COVID-19, and will likely be one of the last to recover. But the curtain is rising again, and the show will go on.’ 

In the background, Brisbane city was lit up with a pulsing laser beam show and ethereal music, hoping to offer solace, guidance and inspiration to the public. 

The light show will go ahead every Friday and Saturday night for the month of September.  

The festival kicked off with a Jumoo - or welcome to country - by the Sunshine Coast's Gubbi Gubbi people and members of the Sunshine State's indigenous community

The festival kicked off with a Jumoo – or welcome to country – by the Sunshine Coast’s Gubbi Gubbi people and members of the Sunshine State’s indigenous community

Jumoo means 'smoking' in the Turrbal language, and members of the community led the public, and esteemed guests including Dr Young, through a traditional ceremony as smoke billowed into the night sky

Jumoo means ‘smoking’ in the Turrbal language, and members of the community led the public, and esteemed guests including Dr Young, through a traditional ceremony as smoke billowed into the night sky

Pop up street performances are appearing throughout the city for the month of September

Pop up street performances are appearing throughout the city for the month of September

In a true reflection of the year that was, Circa’s acrobatic performance, Leviathon, is both haunting and chaotic.

The ensemble cast, accompanied by Brisbane-based acrobats and dancers for the gravity-defying performance.

Tickets start at $45 for the show, which ends on September 12 and is described as exploring ‘the unpredictable energies that are unleashed in a civilisation careening toward an unknown fate’.

The performance is about as far from socially distanced as one could get, as young men and women climb on top of one another, leap through the air and huddle together in confined spaces.

Artists were required to follow strict protocols to begin training together again after the pandemic put an end to community sport and gave rise to the necessity of social distancing.

But Brisbane Festival’s artistic director Louise Bezzina, and her right-hand man, CEO Charlie Cush, were relentless in their quest to bring this performance to life.

In a true reflection of the year that was, Circa's acrobatic performance, Leviathon, is both haunting and chaotic. The ensemble cast, accompanied by Brisbane-based acrobats and dancers for the gravity-defying performance

In a true reflection of the year that was, Circa’s acrobatic performance, Leviathon, is both haunting and chaotic. The ensemble cast, accompanied by Brisbane-based acrobats and dancers for the gravity-defying performance

Over the month of September, pop-up concerts will be delivered to 190 suburbs to serenade the locals and bring the joy of the festival to the furthest corners of Brisbane

Over the month of September, pop-up concerts will be delivered to 190 suburbs to serenade the locals and bring the joy of the festival to the furthest corners of Brisbane

Mr Cush told Daily Mail Australia changes were being made to the cast and the performance up until the very last minute, and that all 36 performers went above and beyond to avoid jeopardising the show.

The lack of social distancing on stage was well and truly made up for in the crowd, though.

For the artists, who are used to performing to packed crowds around the world, staring out into a half-empty theatre must have been quite a shock on opening night.

For each occupied seat, there were three empty ones nearby to ensure compliance with Queensland Health’s COVID-safe plans.

After weeks of fronting cameras and working tirelessly to protect Queenslanders, Dr Jeanette Young received a standing ovation and round of applause as she was thanked for her role in getting the festival over the line at the show.

Ms Bezzina described her as ‘a superhero’ for her efforts. 

Post show drinks and mingling with the artists was also cancelled. 

The community performances will include contemporary musicians, DJs, cabaret shows, circus performances, jazz performers, folk singers and classical artists

The community performances will include contemporary musicians, DJs, cabaret shows, circus performances, jazz performers, folk singers and classical artists

Pictured: Megan Washington

Pictured: Hot Mess Mama

In spite of the success of the festival, the organisers still had plenty of adjustments to make to ensure it was COVID-safe

Leviathon Artists were required to follow strict protocols to begin training together again after the pandemic put an end to community sport and gave rise to the necessity of social distancing

Leviathon Artists were required to follow strict protocols to begin training together again after the pandemic put an end to community sport and gave rise to the necessity of social distancing

In spite of the success of the festival, the organisers still had plenty of adjustments to make to ensure it was COVID-safe.

Inspired by videos of Italians singing from their balconies during the strict lockdown which forced 60million people into their homes, Louise Bezzina decided to take the festival to the community.

‘The program was repeatedly recrafted under ever-evolving restrictions… I invite [people] to ”do as the Romans do” and sing and dance in the streets of Brisbane,’ she said.

‘It’s time to have some fun.’

Over the month of September, pop-up concerts will be delivered to 190 suburbs to serenade the locals and bring the joy of the festival to the furthest corners of Brisbane.

The performances will include contemporary musicians, DJs, cabaret shows, circus performances, jazz performers, folk singers and classical artists.

The festival is family-friendly and most of the events are free throughout the month of September

The festival is family-friendly and most of the events are free throughout the month of September

Crowds turned out at the Jumoo to watch from a distance even once tickets inside the actual event sold out

Crowds turned out at the Jumoo to watch from a distance even once tickets inside the actual event sold out

Ahead of the festival’s opening, Mr Cush explained that Brisbane residents could nominate their street or suburb to host an artist, and they were ultimately responsible for ensuring the rest of their neighbours were on board.

And while the performances are in open air and free to the public, festival organisers have still taken steps to ensure the health and safety of performers and the public.  

The shows, for example, are impromptu and are rarely advertised to avoid excessive crowds gathering.

Instead, they’re intended to embolden the local community and bring some joy back into everyday life in the midst of a global pandemic which has hurt so many Aussies. 

The Brisbane Festival also lined up with the reopening of Metro Arts, in a brand new location in West Village.

The outdoor sanctuary is Brisbane’s answer to Wendy Whiteley’s Secret Garden in Sydney, complete with manicured hedges, twinkly fairy lights and hidden child-sized installations.

While the space is ideal for families – complete with face painters and exciting artworks for children, the garden oasis and nearby dining precinct makes it a perfect option for a daytime date or picnic.

The light show will go ahead every Friday and Saturday night for the month of September

The light show will go ahead every Friday and Saturday night for the month of September

The Brisbane Festival also lined up with the reopening of Metro Arts, in a brand new location in West Village

The Brisbane Festival also lined up with the reopening of Metro Arts, in a brand new location in West Village

A selection of Brisbane's vocal artists will perform steamy 'tongue-in-cheek' stories over the phone each Wednesday night for the remainder of the festival

A selection of Brisbane’s vocal artists will perform steamy ‘tongue-in-cheek’ stories over the phone each Wednesday night for the remainder of the festival

Metro Arts CEO and Creative Director Jo Thomas told Daily Mail Australia there were several changes that had to be made ahead of opening last Wednesday, but that ultimately the schedule escaped relatively unscathed in the COVID-shutdown.

The escape from the city – while just a short 20 minute walk from South Bank has so far proven a great move for modern art collective, which features works from up-and-coming and already established artists. 

In another outdoor display of hope for the Brisbane community, artist Florentijn Hofman’s Messengers of Brisbane are perched throughout the city.

The Netherlands-based artist is well loved for his giant Duck artwork, which spent months floating through Sydney Harbour in 2013.

And in sticking with the theme of giant animals, Hofman created six enormous, inflatable Gouldian Finches which have been displayed at several locations throughout the city.

The concept is the birds will spread messages throughout the city – and eventually the nation. 

Hofman, along with Brisbane’s Urban Art Project which brought the idea to life, will encourage people to ‘look up and smile’.  

Artist Hiromi Tango seeks to bring comfort and spark joy through the magic of fluorescence in her new art installation, Brainbow Magic, at the Metro Arts centre

Artist Hiromi Tango seeks to bring comfort and spark joy through the magic of fluorescence in her new art installation, Brainbow Magic, at the Metro Arts centre

Pictured: One of the Gouldian Finches which have been installed throughout Brisbane

Pictured: One of the Gouldian Finches which have been installed throughout Brisbane

From an Elders Dance Club for older members of the LGBTQI community to party the night away (pictured) to live performances, spoken word artists and dance groups, the festival was created with the idea that there really is something for everyone in Brisbane

From an Elders Dance Club for older members of the LGBTQI community to party the night away (pictured) to live performances, spoken word artists and dance groups, the festival was created with the idea that there really is something for everyone in Brisbane

Hunting for the finches became a family-friendly game on opening weekend as they were spotted perched on iconic buildings throughout the city.    

The festival’s calendar is chock-full of family-friendly (and not so family friendly) events for the entire month of September.

From an Elders Dance Club for the older members of the LGBTQI community to party the night away to live performances, spoken word artists and dance groups, the festival was created with the idea that there really is something for everyone in Brisbane.

And for adults wanting to stay at home and avoid the crowds, The Good Room’s ‘(You Don’t Have To Put On Your) Red Light’ will bring the fun to your bedroom.

A selection of Brisbane’s vocal artists will perform steamy ‘tongue-in-cheek’ stories over the phone each Wednesday night for the remainder of the festival. 

Pictured: One of the Gouldian Finches which have been installed throughout Brisbane

Pictured: One of the Gouldian Finches which have been installed throughout Brisbane

Avoidable Perils is one of the artworks displayed during the Brisbane Festival

Avoidable Perils is one of the artworks displayed during the Brisbane Festival

Patrons might have to spend an extra 30 seconds checking into restaurants throughout Brisbane, but aside from that the city appears to have bounced back from the COVID-slump.

South Bank’s food precinct lit up of a night as Queenslanders flocked to restaurants during the festival.

The options almost seem endless – and there wasn’t a ‘closed’ sign in sight. In fact, entire streets of dining facilities appeared at COVID-safe capacity for the duration of the weekend.

From pizza parties at the Spaghetti House Trattoria to fine dining across the river at Donna Chang’s, Brisbane’s dining scene was alive and buzzing all weekend.

And one thing was common among most of the guests at the festival – they were proud of the work Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk had put in to keeping the state safe, and they were proud to be a Queenslander. 

To explore the entire program, visit the Brisbane Festival web page. 

To see more of what’s happening in Brisbane, check out Visit Brisbane

Pictured: One of the Gouldian Finches which have been installed throughout Brisbane

Pictured: One of the Gouldian Finches which have been installed throughout Brisbane

Source


Spread the love
  •  
  •  
  • 1
  •  
  •  
  •   
  •  
  •  
    1
    Share

Related posts

Leave a Comment