In response to venue closures in March, the Frankston Arts Centre moved swiftly to curate a digital series for patrons to enjoy from the comfort and safety of home. Ranging from live music, to Daytime Music + Theatre, to virtual art exhibitions and creative participation opportunities, the program continues to bring audiences together despite our social distancing.
“It was extremely important for us to stay connected. Audiences, the community and artists are the beating heart of the centre and we wanted to keep the energy alive,” explains Head of Programming at the Frankston Arts Centre, Tammy Ryan.
“The moment the centre closed we swiftly adapted some of our upcoming programs and continued to work hard to present new, engaging opportunities.”
In late April, thousands of people enjoyed a performance by peninsula-based singer and songwriter Cam Tapp, live-streamed on Facebook at a time when viewers were only in the early stages of missing the live music scene. Having established a loyal following of fans on social media by steaming performances from his lounge room, Tapp was excited to be the first artist invited to live stream from the Theatre in the history of Frankston Arts Centre saying it was a “a surreal and haunting experience”.
There were many comments by viewers musing about the joy of listening to live-music and how good it felt to connect with others via music, even if the audience were all in their own homes. “The Arts connects people and creates opportunities for shared experiences. In a time of crisis that seeks to separate us, these experiences become crucial,” Ryan said.
The second event in the FAC Digital Series was a Daytime + Music Theatre performance of Kings of the High C, live-streamed from the Arts Centre Theatre via Facebook and YouTube. Starring the incredible voices of Roy Best, Alison Jones and Chris McKenna, Kings of the High C features the hit songs of Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and Carreras. Since the performance premiered in mid-May, several thousand people have enjoyed it at home with many expressing sincere gratitude for having the opportunity to engage in music theatre at home.
For many, the true joy of attending the theatre is in the shared experience with other audience members. Chris McKenna reflects on this after his recent live-streamed performance in the empty FAC Theatre. “It was a wonderfully weird experience. To walk out to three cameras instead of 700 smiling patrons you need a different mindset. We had to create our own energy, as a lot of the time energy bounces up onto the stage from a live audience.”
Daytime Music + Theatre is well received and loved by the older generations, many of whom were feeling especially isolated in order to protect their health. It was important to the FAC team to be inclusive in offering online performances to as many in the community as possible, leading them to send copies of the performance to aged care facilities in the Frankston municipality. The positive health benefits of reminiscing when listening to music are numerous, with many aged care residents loving the opportunity to see a show in the comfort of the home.
Upcoming in the FAC Digital Series is a First Nation’s music performance timed to coincide with the original dates of NAIDOC week. The FAC will livestream A Musical Reconciliation by Spirit Lines on Thursday 9 July, 7.30pm via Facebook Live and YouTube. Spirit Lines features Indigenous Australian Mutti Mutti singer, songwriter Uncle Kutcha Edwards, three-time Latin Grammy guitarist Daniel Jauregui, plus Anglo-Brazilian percussionist and scholar Adrian Hearn. Their musical collaboration explores the reconciliation of ancestral lines in the spirit of hope.
Frankston City Council Mayor, Sandra Mayer, encouraged the community to join her and watch the show from the comfort of their homes.
“It is wonderful that the Arts Centre has made this inspiring act available to the community,” Cr Mayer said.
“Music is one of my passions and I’m looking forward to tuning in for a great performance which shares a very important reconciliation message.”
Making the arts accessible at home to people of all ages, the FAC also released several online creative opportunities since March including the I Heart Portrait Prize for kids and its virtual exhibition, the Stories at the End of the Line short story call-out resulting in a published anthology and an exhibition in 2021. Both of these opportunities resulted in hundreds of submissions, proving that the local community is vibrant and includes active lovers of the arts.
Ryan encourages the community to stay engaged with the arts whilst we are slowly heading back out to a less-isolated world. “We can’t wait to welcome audiences and performers back to the centre, but in the meantime we hope that you stay connected and reap the rewards of FAC’s digital arts and culture experiences.”