New arts festival launched

By Ashleigh Fielding | posted on December 14, 2017

THE void left by Perth International Arts Festival’s exit from the Great Southern has been quickly filled by the creation of the three-month long Albany Arts Festival Season which kicks off in February.

Co-curators Drew Dymond and Rod Vervest have poured a combined 33 years’ experience with PIAF into the new festival after the announcement in July that PIAF had pulled the plug on its Great Southern leg.

Mr Vervest was the Great Southern PIAF program manager for 15 years and is also the artistic director of Fairbridge Festival, while Mr Dymond worked with PIAF for 18 years before taking the reins of Albany Entertainment Centre in June.

“We have an absolute right to keep going,” Mr Vervest said of filling the gap left by PIAF.

“The festival will embrace a fair bit, it will be multi-genre, and it will be nicely bookended by PIAF and the Fairbridge Festival.”

“This new festival is a good opportunity to latch on to the other acts from PIAF and Fairbridge. I’ve already harvested acts from the Fairbridge.”

Mr Dymond said the Albany Arts Festival Season will be a great opportunity for the region and has the possibility to expand in the future, with more acts and a wider geographical throw.

“It’s a small start to a big thing,” he said.

“It will be attractive to tourists, because it will have broader access and better planning opportunities with a season,” Mr Vervest added.

Despite the co-curators agreeing that the unknown risk of ticket sales across the festival loomed large, they said dismissing the idea of an Albany festival all together would be more detrimental.

“The biggest risk is not doing it at all,” Mr Dymond said.

“We are mixing local and international artists, so there are always thoughts of did we choose the right acts, will they be appealing, and whether enough people know about it.”

“But, Albany has an appetite for music events and the arts,” Mr Vervest added.

“Albany deserves this.”

Ticket sales for the Albany Arts Festival Season go on sale today, and the full program will be inserted in next week’s Weekender.

Tickets vary in price, with some events being free of charge.

“We’ve deliberately made it accessible with the cost of tickets,” Mr Dymond said.

“We want to encourage people to give the festival a go.”

Both Mr Dymond and Mr Vervest were confident the event would be a success and urged people of the Great Southern to get behind it.

“We are taking a leap of faith and we need people to take it with us,” Mr Vervest said.

The line-up for the Albany Arts Festival Season will feature theatre, classical and contemporary music, film, visual art, spoken word and circus.

This will include the Casus Circus, French pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, British and French cinema, contemporary Great Southern visual artists, open-mic storytelling and many other performances from local and international talent.