Post by Ross Farnell.
What are, and what is, Culture Tracks?
We all know about tracks in their various guises – journeys, pathways, connections, stories that interconnect places, events, people and things. Culture is interwoven within all of these tracks, the things that we do, who we do them with, and where we frequent – they’re all integral to forming the shape of our diverse cultures.
The Hills and the wider Yarra Ranges has developed unique cultural impressions and enclaves through its people, its places, environment and importantly, its creativity. This creativity and cultural vitality is visible everywhere in the streets of our local community; one need only look at events like the Belgrave Lantern Parade, Belgrave Survival Day, End of the Line Festival, the Buskers Festival and so much more.
There is also a wealth of creativity emanating from the fabulous arts and cultural venues in our region. Yes, that includes Burrinja (and OK, I’m a bit biased there!), yet encompasses too the Yarra Ranges Regional Museum, Memorial Hall Healesville, Montrose Town Centre, Mooroolbark Community Centre and the Upper Yarra Arts Centre in Warburton. All of these places not only present a whole range of arts and cultural events and activities, but engage throughout their wider communities to help make great arts and culture happen all around them.
So… (the thought went)… what if we put together a combined program of all the activities happening at all these vibrant places, and mapped those tracks and trails between those spaces and those communities – what would it look like if we forgot about the bricks and mortar and physical locations, and combined all of those activities into just one (amazing) program?
Since early 2013 the coordinators of all these centres and others from arts, culture and heritage at Yarra Ranges, including the manager Greg Box, regularly sat around the table with various formats of their 2014 programs in development: touring and local exhibitions, theatre shows, dance, film, family performances and more. As coffees grew cold, dates were wrangled to coordinate programs, tours, formats, images, booking processes, web sites, logos and so much more.
And what did we end up with?
Culture Tracks – Program 2014, an action-packed program of events across all art forms. Everyone involved is really pleased with the final result – a program to rival any bustling arts metropolis, right here in the hills and the Yarra Ranges. This is so much more than 60 glossy pages of fabulous arts and culture to get stuck into – although it definitely is that! To quote the program introduction by Mayor Cr Fiona McAllister, Culture Tracks “reflects and expresses our community’s desire to access meaningful arts and heritage experiences. It provides inspiration for our community to actively engage and participate in local culture.”
We work hard to make arts and culture happen because, as Greg Box says, “cultural communities are strong communities. Engaging in cultural activity brings economy a sense of community, creativity, inspiration and above all else… meaning”. It helps to shape who we are and where we live. As we say at Burrinja, it is about ‘building community through arts’.
Culture Tracks has already made such a strong impression on the wider world of arts and culture – journeying from the hills – that the Minister for the Arts The Hon Heidi Victoria came and launched the program at Burrinja on February 21. In the company of Jarmbi members, volunteers, board members, guests, friends and staff aplenty Culture Tracks was launched from the stage of our theatre to the accompaniment of video excerpts from upcoming shows and a live performance – situated within the seats – by Chris Howlett on cello. Literally turning the theatre around with the audience on stage created a unique environment for the launch, one befitting such an inspiring program.
You can check out the full Culture Tracks program online or pick up a hard copy at Burrinja or lots of other great locations throughout the hills. Enjoy!
Photos of the launch party by Barbara Oehring and Zac Exner. Photos of Culture Tracks Program by Adriana Alvarez.