Festival program launched

By Ashleigh Fielding | posted on November 16, 2018

MORE than 4000 people are expected to flock to Albany next year for the expanded Albany Arts Festival Season program.

The festival was launched this year following the exclusion of the Great Southern from the Perth International Arts Festival, and included 18 theatre, classical and contemporary music, visual art and circus acts.

Co-curator of the event Drew Dymond said the 2019 festival season will see 27 different acts perform in Albany across four months.

He estimates 4250 people will attend.

“We had an audience of 3300 people this year, so we hope to build on that,” Mr Dymond told The Weekender.

“And 30 per cent of that figure was from people outside the Albany postcode, so I think there’s an appetite for it.”

Four of the 27 acts were revealed on Tuesday ahead of the full program announcement before Christmas, which included Albany-bred stand-up comedian Amy Hetherington.

Jazz singer and Grammy Award nominee Jazzmeia Horn, theatre production Wot? No Fish!! and Irish singer Sharon Shannon featuring SON form the first Festival Preview Package alongside Ms Hetherington.

“It’s really pleasing,” Mr Dymond said of including local acts.

“We have three collaborations with local and national artists planned.

“It’s terrific to give local artists a platform.”

The inaugural Albany Shanty and Sea Song Festival is one of the new events on the festival season calendar and Mr Dymond believes it’s the first of its kind in the country.

“It’ll be the first Australian shanty festival, as far as we know,” he said.

“Albany is entirely suited to it, being a seaside town, and it will be entirely free.

“It’ll be a pretty enjoyable event.”

Co-curator Rod Vervest confessed the idea for the Albany Shanty and Sea Song Festival came to him while on the airwaves.

“The whole idea unfolded on radio when I was talking to Andrew Collins [ABC],” he laughed.

“The Albany Shantymen were visiting the Fairbridge Festival and it was suggested, well, why not have a shanty festival?

“Australia doesn’t really have an official shanty festival so we thought, let’s go out on a limb.”

Mr Vervest said the “greatest shanty group in the world”, Kimber’s Men from the UK, will be the centerpiece of the festival and be accompanied by seven other local and visiting shanty groups, including Albany’s male and female shanty groups.

He agreed with Mr Dymond that Albany was a “good fit” for such event.

“The festival will open on the Amity,” Mr Vervest said.

“It’ll be a shanty blast.”

Other new elements of the festival season include an additional three theatre performances – both traditional and interactive digital public theatre – 13 free events and the premiering of a local composer’s work.

“I really hope people seriously look at and engage with the program,” Mr Vervest said.

“Just because you haven’t heard of it, doesn’t mean it isn’t good…we haven’t gone with the obvious and popular, we’ve gone with the new and interesting, people on the world circuit.”

“They’re certainly all must-sees,” Mr Dymond added.