Known for its fun and frivolity, this year’s Feast Festival is aiming it hit a higher note securing new partnerships with the Art Gallery and State Library.
Releasing a preview of its program including country singer Beccy Cole, new festival artistic director Catherine Fitzgerald says she has raised the bar by curating the festival and developing new partnerships.
She says while the festival will still be fun and playful, it will also appeal to a wider audience by reintroducing classical music to the program.
“What I’ve done with the program is that I’ve curated the majority of the works in the program and tried to match them up with forums and discussions so we can cross reference the works presented,” Fitzgerald says.
“I’ve also expanded it in terms of its reach and appeal in terms of generation and different economic background.”
Cole, who came out as a lesbian just more than a year ago, will be the headline act of a one night party in the festival’s new home at the Lion Arts Centre.
The other preview acts released today include all-male cabaret review, Le Male which “set to put a lump in your throat and maybe your pants”, Monologue of a Deaf Woman, which is performed in Auslan and interpreted for hearing people, and Bedlam – a DJ party with Australia’s renowned queer DJs including Kitty Glitter.
Fitzgerald says the gender theme will allow the festival to “mix it up” with theme represented by the food processor on the poster, also released today.
The decision follows the heightened political focus on gender over the past year with the ousting of Julia Gillard as Prime Minister.
“When people see people dressed up you see a man kissing a woman in drag and you’ve got a gay image, but it’s also a heterosexual image and it mixes it up and it’s playful, but it has a good political discourse behind it.”
The festival’s home for the last four years on Light Square, which was the centre of controversy after a showdown with the Rundle Street preachers, has been switched for new digs at the Lion Arts Centre called the ANZ Cluster.
The space will include the Lion Arts Centre Courtyard (Courtyard Cluster), Fowlers Live (The Blender), Nexus Cabaret (Queer Nexus), The Mercury Cinema and The University of South Australia (The Tank).
“The move really is, for me, it was because people didn’t know what was going on in [last year’s hub in Light Square], it was a sort of roundabout and wasn’t inviting,” Fitzgerald says.
“The other major reason was that it just cost a fortune and by moving we could loosen up that money and put more into the artists.”
The move is to avoid “poor cousin” comparisons to the bigger festivals.
“We are a really under-funded festival we can’t compete with the really big venues like Garden of Unearthly Delights, which has mega bucks poured into it and we don’t want to look like the poor cousin in that sense.”
Fitzgerald is also bringing the festival to the metropolitan and regional areas, which brings in a social element to her work.
“My vision is that we have this CBD cluster and event spread state wide because I’ve worked in the regions and it is really important that we have some sort of connect, for people that aren’t heterosexual and don’t fit in with the norm can be very isolated in country regions.
“I think we need that outreach on a social and cultural level and arts can change people’s perspective.”
The Feast Festival picnic has also been moved to Bonython Park following criticism of last year’s event which was held in Light Square.
Despite its place in the festival calendar as a niche festival, it did not mean people needed to be gay, lesbian, intersex, transgender, bisexual or queer to participate.
“I think it’s my ideal of a festival on opening night that young, older queer people are here with their parents and siblings and families to go see shows and have a laugh.
“If you look at the recent cabaret festival half of that was queer as queer and people went in droves, we are a festival for everyone what it means it that all our content has some queer content attached to it.”
Feast will also host the 13th Adelaide Pride March, which will embark on a new route through the streets of Adelaide and celebrate the 40th anniversary since the initial march in 1973.
The full Feast Festival program will be released in October with the festival running from November 9 to 24.
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