SPARK Ipswich celebrates the artists, people, places and culture of the Ipswich area
After overcoming the challenges presented by COVID last year, organizers at SPARK Ipswich feel they can conquer anything, potentially including bad weather.
A wet bump is literally water off a duck’s back for the festival’s event team, which was emerging from an instant lockdown around this time last year.
Senior Producer Angie Dunbavan of Red Chair is confident that this year’s event (July 7-17) will go off without a hitch. “Because the restrictions have been lifted, we’re pretty much back to normal in terms of capacity, and people can dance and there’s no mask-wearing required.
“So it feels very much like a throwback to the pre-COVID days,” Angie says.
“We’re obviously still quite beefed up in terms of having great handwashing facilities, making sure people can distance themselves, and getting the message out – which is the message that goes everywhere – that if you don’t feel well, you can’t attend. But other than that, we’re pretty much back to normal.”
While there is no cap on the number of events, some of the events on the schedule will remain at a similar capacity to last year as the sold-out crowd was the right size for the event.
For the most part, however, the 11 days of programming will be at full capacity. The Little Day Out children’s music festival, along with some of SPARK After Dark’s inclusions and the Waghorn To West indie music tour, continued last year’s schedule.
Regurgitator’s POGOGO Show will headline Little Day Out this year, after failing to make last year’s event due to interstate border closures.
“We also have a lot of new shows,” says Angie. “Probably our biggest new event is called Luminate, which is 11 nights of live music in an outdoor space in the middle of town.”
Luminate will join two other elements to form this year’s SPARK After Dark programme: Delight, a projection of works on St. Mary’s Church; and Pixel, a collaboration with the University of Southern Queensland’s Interactive Design and Technologies team using video technology on the facade of the council’s administration building.
“From 6 to 9 p.m. every night we’ll have a program on stage – mostly local artists of all different genres – and there will be food trucks, there’s a bar, there’s traveling artists, there’s installations bright,” says Angie.
“It’s the biggest new thing in the program this year in terms of creating a space where people can go every day of the festival and just hang out and see great music, eat delicious food, and enjoy the show on the church and also on the administration building.”
This Saturday (July 9), key figures in the music industry will come together with locals for a free professional development event, Sound The Horn.
“We’ve worked with some of the leading representatives of the music industry, including QMusic, to create a professional development day for local artists,” says Angie.
“It’s also open to artists outside the region, but it’s about building networks, getting new information and accessing music industry experts, including Alex Henriksson (Rainbow Valley Records) , Braydon Ritson (Mountain Goat Valley Crawl), Kristy Gostelow (Busby Marou) and Maggie Collins (DZ Deathrays).”
Following the Professional Development Day, Waghorn To West, a wildly popular independent music tour, features 16 artists across 4 venues, including Bugs, Lisi, Greta Stanley and Asha Jefferies.
“We’re really aware that emerging artists and people working in our industry haven’t had a great time over the past couple of years, so making things as affordable as possible – if not free – has been something we have really tried to do in the whole festival program,” says Angie.
“Even Waghorn To West the ticket price is $25 for six or seven hours of programming so we try to make it as accessible as possible and we really have to thank Ipswich City Council and all of our partner organizations for helping that happen, because their support means we’ve been able to keep tickets free or very low priced across the board. »
Angie says the best thing about SPARK Ipswich is how it showcases the people, places and culture of the town, drawing attention to local artists in the process. “It celebrates our spaces and places, as well as beautiful architecture and parks,” she says.
“Ipswich is a bit of a hidden gem, in my opinion, in terms of culture and facilities available to the community.
“So I think the best thing about it is an opportunity to really showcase the culture of Ipswich and bring that wider south east community to Ipswich, to experience it. It’s not a very far drive or train ride from Brisbane.”
SPARK Ipswich is taking place across Ipswich from July 7-17.