Mayor Damien Ryan and Minister for Central Australia Karl Hampton, with two young helpers, took the launch of the Alice Springs Festival literally, with a flotilla of paper boats in the Chifley Resort pool. A zany poolside performance by the Dusty Feet Dance Collective provided light relief after the obligatory speeches.
Our film clip also has chair of Red Hot Arts, Kalikamurti Suich, and festival and events manager Scott Large, explain why they are heart and soul immersed in the annual spectacle.
The first event is as soon as next weekend – the hugely popular Wearable Art Awards, where the arts of bodily adornment are taken in ever more unexpected directions.
The festival proper kicks off on September 9 with the sunset street parade leading into a weekend of music, performance, workshops, a children’s carnival, all at the POD Space at Anzac Oval.
Imported drawcard for the Friday night is urban roots act Blue King Brown, fronted by Natalie Pa’apa’a, supported by local bands Dr Strangeways and Tjupi Band.
The Bush Bands Bash takes to the stage on the Saturday night, while Desert Divas – women vocalists from around the region – will perform at lunchtime.
The Darwin Symphony Orchestra are the Sunday night attraction, combining with singers Warren H Williams, Catherine Satour and Jacinta Price for an event called Big Sky Country. The orchestra will also perform at the Desert Park on the Tuesday (Sept 13), with NT Administrator Tom Pauling reciting Shakespearian sonnets to a composition by Cathy Applegate.
A play about the extraordinary Olive Pink, called The First Garden, will have its premiere the following weekend. The play has been written by Chris and Natasha Raja and will be presented at Olive Pink Botanic Garden.
Desert Mob at Araluen is the premier visual arts event of the festival, but there will also be some interesting shows around town: Souvenir, a reinterpretation of the “red centre” at Watch This Space; work from the dynamic Tjungu Palya Art Centre at RAFT Artspace; a first solo show for Kay Rubuntja Naparrula at Muk Muk; and an intriguing artists “lock in” at the empty shopfront next to Monte’s.