Published: 27 October 2016

SPECIAL INTEREST MATTERS   Tuesday 18 October, 2016

 Mr President, those who are friends of mine on Facebook would know last Friday to Sunday I attended an outstanding festival - The Unconformity in Queenstown.  Honourable members will also recall I spoke about this festival a few weeks ago, encouraging others to go.  Those who did not missed out on a world‑class event with world‑class entertainment.

Before speaking specifically about the event, I acknowledge the work of the whole Unconformity festival team.  Led by festival director Travis Tiddy, and board chair Sandy Chilcott, the amazing team also included Dan Rooke, Alison Wilkes, Amy Joseph, Andrew Ross, Lea Walpole, Trudy Mee, Megan Crump, Leigh Styles, Adam Mansson, Peter Walker, Shane Pitt, Joy Chappell, Anne McKay, Joe Gaspersic, Jude Abell, Raymond Arnold, Martyn Coutts, Duckpond and Dylan Sheridan.  There are many others who also made a significant contribution and I thank them all.

The festival team was also supported by a huge number of well-organised and dedicated volunteers, all visible in their blue Unconformity high-vis vests.  Such an event could not go on without these wonderful people who actually did not get to see many of the events as a result of their commitment.  I thank all of those people.

I also thank the sponsors and partners of this event.  There are many who made a major contribution to the event and too many to name within my allocated time.  I note, however, that the current funding agreement through Events Tasmania has ended.  I ask the Leader, in her role as Minister for the Arts, to work with the Unconformity team to ensure this high-quality festival can continue with appropriate funding as she herself knows how important and successful this event is - not just in tourism impacts and benefits but in terms of the health and wellbeing impacts and the tangible support for the west coast residents and businesses, many of whom continue to struggle through the tough economic times the region is facing at the moment.

I know the member for Derwent thoroughly enjoyed himself after getting through border control just north of Derwent Bridge.  I also noticed the Leader enjoying herself at a range of events, in particular the Oasis After Hours Club, a true gem and relic from the past under the Empire Hotel which has been released from the dust of desertion and vacancy of the past quarter of a century.  The pale pink carpeted walls were freshly vacuumed and, let us just say, it was packed on both nights.  The member for Derwent was also seen in there together with his fearless leader.  They had to be fearless that night, I think.

There is so much to tell and only a few minutes to do it.  Luckily the member for Derwent will be willing to add to my comments.

Queenstown and the west coast generally has become a cultural and art hub.  So many talented artists are living in the region and their work has been displayed throughout the town.  Many are making a very clear link in their work to the mining heritage of the region.  

The shows and performances were absolutely amazing and I could do a special interest speech on each one.  I will try to summarise and note it would have been impossible to get to all of them.  

Locals opened up their homes and businesses to the world.  There were visitors from all around the state, the country, and some who came specifically for the festival from the United States.  I spoke to people from Launceston, Hobart, the Tasman Peninsula, the east coast, various places on the mainland and, as I said, one couple who were travelling from overseas.  

Thousands of people descended upon Queenstown.  Accommodation was booked out weeks ago across the west coast and nearly all ticketed events were sold out.  I was very glad I had booked tickets and accommodation early.

All the events had a direct and tangible link to the west coast and enabled all who attended to really immerse themselves in the place - the sounds, the land, the air, the water, the wonderful west coast.

A brief precis of some of the events that I know will not do justice to the festival overall.  

The Paragon Theatre was once again used, a true gem and asset to Queenstown.  The Paragon housed the pop-up radio station, Unconformist Radio 7UN, and ran throughout the festival - great listening.

The Crib Room transformed the main street into a food and party hub, serving great Tasmanian food, wines, beers and gin.

Mudlark Theatre premiered an amazing performance written by Cameron Hindrum, who lived in Queenstown during his teenage years.  This incredible performance was set in Queenstown during the Gordon-below-Franklin era and was truly a coming-of-age story.  The incredibly powerful story and convincing actors had a deep impact on all who attended this performance.  At one stage I almost yelled out, 'No, stop!  Don't do it'.  It was so confronting.  I will speak more about this performance at a later time.

Fault Traces was an incredible new solo work by percussive artist Matthias Schack-Arnott.  Matthias used subsonic frequencies to trigger vibrational patterns in layers of objects strewn across materials, including shells, pipes, cymbals, bells, bamboo rods, rocks, metal bowls and more.  The audience was entranced and given a physical and psychological experience of the subterranean world.  I have never experienced sound waves in that way before.

'We Are Mountain' took us to the Iron Blow in the evening, taking in the power of the earth and wind - because it was very windy - with all the sights, sounds and tactile sensations they bring.  We also got to eat the amazing cake mountain. 

'How to See through Fog' was a documentary that detailed the Mt Lyell copper mine stories since the 2014 tragedies.  It was a story of great sadness, disappointment and acceptance, as well as hope for the future.  It was attended by many people, many of whom had returned to Queenstown to catch up with friends and enjoy the festival.

'We Built This City' in the Queenstown Memorial Hall was heaven for children and adults alike.  Building a city out of thousands of cardboard cartons, and then knocking it down, had to be experienced to be understood.  The joy on the faces of the children, the laughter, the noise of happy voices and the excitement was wonderful.  There was an area for very young children, and even a box hospital for any boxes that been injured and needed repair.  The support of adults who assisted in the set up and during the event, We Built this City, was wonderful.  It was an opportunity for all schoolchildren on the west coast to play before the event was open to the public.  To see the looks on the children's faces, to hear their laughter, their joy during and as they left the hall was wonderful.

I could spend much longer talking about other events and I will be using other opportunities to do this.  

I conclude with one story that was very profound and had a real impact on those who took the journey into Dark Water.  In this amazing performance, we followed a woman onto a steam train, and then underground.  We shared her journey to the centre of the earth, through the depths of despair and grief.  This was a truly moving journey that touched some of our deepest emotions, with a very talented actor.  Everyone I spoke to who attended the event was deeply moved and touched by this experience.  It was a very insightful journey through grief and I am sure will be long remembered.

This event cleverly used important infrastructure within the town and has enticed some members of the community who may not be so into the arts - as most people expect the arts to be - to get into the arts.  I know the member for Derwent has a whole new love and appreciation for the arts as a result of this performance and he is keen to tell you about it.

I commend all those involved for a successful event in every sense.  I look forward to the 2018 event and other events that will lead up to it, including the Queenie Ute Muster.


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