An opera, a circus rock concert and a night of grass roots music heads up the jam-packed program of the Penola Coonawarra Arts Festival, this year celebrating its 25th birthday.
Over four days in May, more than forty venues across Penola and Coonawarra in the Limestone Coast will be abuzz with an unprecedented number of exhibitions, workshops, competitions, comedy, live music and performance events. Parks, churches, local halls, winery cellar doors, schools, hotels and shearing sheds will host an eclectic mix that create this year’s Festival, with the ever popular Family Program ensuring the engagement of the whole community.
According to Festival Committee Chair, Rhett McDonald – a veteran of five Festivals – this year’s line-up is a fitting celebration of the previous 24 years’ success.
“The 25th Festival is possible as a result of the community’s hard work and the support of all the individuals who have played a part in the previous 24 Festivals,” said Mr McDonald.
“Numerous community members, committees, artists, participants, dignitaries, sponsors, and many more have all helped to pave the way,” he said.
Kicking off on Thursday May 19 will be the announcement of the 2016 John Shaw Neilson Acquisitive Art winner – which now boasts prize money of $8000 thanks to the generosity of long-term supporter The Balnaves Foundation – along with the Design Prize announcement, and the Local Art Prize.
Co-Opera, in conjunction with SA’s Gilbert & Sullivan Society, makes its return appearance, this year performing the popular ‘The Mikado’.
The Coonawarra Vignerons’ present the ‘Shenanigans’ grass-roots music night at the Coonawarra Hall welcoming back the velvet tones of Kelly Menhennett blending folk, roots and gypsy/jazz, ‘Prawnhead’ and other exciting new bands.
Sell-out city fringe festival ‘Pants Down Circus Rock’ – part circus/part rock concert – headlines the growing and ever popular Family Program, and will be offering workshops and roving performances throughout the weekend in addition to their finale family performance on Sunday afternoon in Penola’s Rymill Hall.
Renowned singer songwriter and multi award winner Archie Roach will be performing in an intimate setting at Bellwether Wines, five time Walkley Award winning photojournalist Kate Geraghty presents ‘Coonawarra to the Conflict Zone’, an exhibition of her work around the globe covering war and the human cost, and the sell-out ‘A Dawne Chorus’ returns with an astonishing array of Australian bird calls, amazing bird stories and avian information.
Along with all the Festival favorites, there are more than seventy events listed in the Festival program and Rhett McDonald is confident there truly is something for everyone.
“We invite everyone to come and experience what promises to be one of the best Festivals yet, and to enjoy the quaint streets, buskers, parks, gardens, food and wine of Penola and Coonawarra over this exciting weekend,” he said.
The full program can be found at www.artsfestival.com.au, with tickets to many events also available online, or through the Penola Coonawarra Visitor Information Centre on 08 8737 2855.