Something exciting is about to happen in Ballarat's theatrical entertainment scene, bucking the trend in a struggling industry.
The Ballarat Cabaret Festival is returning with a series of online cabaret szalon events from this month to help audiences stay connected and give artists a platform to perform.
The live monthly treats via video platform Zoom will lead up to a full weekend of events planned for November next year, pending the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Ballarat Cabaret has not been held for some years and the new festival directors, Issie Hart and Nellie Minnelli, are building it from scratch starting with the szalon events.
Hart said a salon was a European tradition where people would gather in someone's lounge room to share ideas.
She said she started a theatrical salon in her lounge room last year but it was short lived due to household visitor limits.
Then Ballarat artist Stella Young encouraged Hart to include an online component to the festival, regardless of whether it went ahead in person or not.
Hart said being able to move online was important and the Ballarat festival had now been made accessible internationally, with szalon tickets already sold in the USA and UK, and interstate.
She said the festival was already putting Ballarat on the international map.
"We have different artists programmed for every month and it's going to be from all of our lounge rooms to all of yours. It's from our quarantine bunker to yours," Hart said.
"We are working on a combination of artists and technical support and supporters who are either from Ballarat or have a Ballarat connection or who are from the broader community."
Hart said she wanted to remind people that even though we were in lockdown or under restrictions, it was still possible to have a lovely time together.
"A Zoom gig has a really nice sense of community with everybody stuck at home in their lounge rooms with a glass of wine. We are hoping to make people feel they are still connected, they are still together, give artists the opportunity to remember we are still artists because sometimes when you haven't been able to perform for such a long time you start to forget, which is challenging for creative people."
Hart said the monthly szalon would plant the seed that something big and beautiful was going to happen with the festival eventually.
"Tune in once a month and see what we are making and then by the time we're all allowed to be together in person, we will know all of our artists and creative team and we will be really pumped to have a full weekend of magical experiences," she said.
The main festival planned for next year will see a full weekend of variety shows, solo shows, secret pop-up events and performance brunches.
"We have such fun things planned. We are going to do a little bit of it online then put it all together hopefully all next year pandemic pending," Hart said.
"It's come right from the ground up and it's a tiny independent venture with big hopes and dreams. We really feel we can bring it back in a way that it can be a sustainable festival that can operate in Ballarat."
Hart, a national and international performer, graduated at the arts academy at the then Ballarat University and Ballarat had always been her second home where she still had connections with artists.
The first online cabaret szalon will be held on September 25 at 7pm, followed by October 30 and November 27.
To buy tickets, visit https://www.trybooking.com/events/landing?eid=806239&.
Tickets have been made inclusive, with the option for people to buy a pay it forward ticket which will be gifted to a Ballarat person with a low income.
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