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Connecting creativity with people across the nation

3-minute read

As Sydney Festival’s first-ever Regional Partner, nbn helped bring connectivity and creativity together.

Between May and July, nbn proudly took Sydney Festival on a ‘regional tour’ through pop-up community events across Australia.

A screening of Bangarra Dance Theatre’s performance Spirit: a retrospective 2021 was the main spectacle, with nbn taking it to Stradbroke Island in Queensland, Batemans Bay and Bangalow in New South Wales (NSW), Santa Teresa in the Northern Territory, and Launceston in Tasmania – in effect, travelling the Festival more than 6,000 kilometres!

Working with Sydney Festival, nbn was thrilled to enable these screenings of that exciting performance, as we connected with local Indigenous and arts groups to host these events.

Connecting city with country and an opportunity to help artists and their audiences stay connected was what this partnership was all about.

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the arts sector and events industry, so the partnership was particularly timely to help the iconic festival to ‘ignite, unite and excite’ even more Australians – with a little help from connectivity.

Chris Tooher, Executive Director at Sydney Festival, told me it could not have come at a better time.

He says more than 30,000 people attended Sydney Festival at home, the first time they have had that as part of the festival offering.

Taking arts to the people

With the pandemic limiting capacity for events and causing widespread cancellations across the country, the team behind Sydney Festival knew they had to innovate and evolve.

One of the Festival’s headline performances offered the opportunity to do just that.

Spirit: a Retrospective 2021 by the Bangarra Dance Theatre was performed and recorded at The Headland upon the Gadigal Land of Barangaroo, NSW, in January.

Unsurprisingly, the COVID-Safe event quickly sold out and, says Chris, presented the chance to reach a much wider audience through one-off digital screenings in five regional locations.

Celebrating the unbroken connection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to the land, Spirit: a Retrospective 2021 invites audiences to connect with stories and songlines from across the nation with a collection of work from the Bangarra Dance Theatre’s rich history.

Che Cockatoo-Collins, Executive Manager for Indigenous Affairs at nbn, on the ferry to Stradbroke Island.

A special connection

Our partnership with Sydney Festival reflects nbn’s broader commitment to support the digital capability of regional Australia, and to collaborate with the arts sector to help them showcase content and cultural performances.

We’re proud of the role we’re playing in helping to digitise the arts and enable collaboration – it’s exciting to imagine what connectivity and creativity may have in store for us all.

Chris agrees that digital presents a huge opportunity for artists.

The audience watching Spirit: a Retrospective 2021 at Stradbroke Island.

“The more exciting opportunity, and where I think there is real areas for growth, is throwing this medium back to our artists and saying, actually, create work specifically for this medium.

“And I think that’s where exciting opportunities are yet to be realised… what would you as an artist do with this format? How do you make this new format come to life in a new way? And I‘m really keen to see what our artists will do with that.”

At nbn, we have an integral role to play to engage and collaborate with the arts sector to develop innovative concepts and business models that take advantage of digital platforms.

I, for one, am looking forward to helping more people connect with our nation’s incredible artists through the power of our network.

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