An ‘Ocean Garden’ of giant inflatable sea creatures and a big band concert under the stars will get the party started on a week of outdoor fun at the Multi-Arts Pavilion, mima (MAP mima) in Speers Point Park.
‘Press Play’ is a jam-packed program of family-friendly activities featuring live music and contemporary dance performances, art installations, kids’ art and story-telling workshops, markets and evening stargazing, all happening in and around the new arts pavilion from 15 to 21 January.
Lake Macquarie City Council Arts, Culture and Tourism Manager Jacqui Hemsley said the versatile new pavilion would lift open its giant stage doors and spill out into the surrounding park during the week to create a welcoming open-air arts venue.
“It is wonderful to be able to offer opportunities for the community to participate in the arts by taking part in this exciting program of events outdoors this summer,” Ms Hemsley said.
From Saturday afternoon, the lawns of MAP mima will be transformed into a dreamy underwater garden with larger-than-life inflatable sculptures that illuminate at night. Visitors will be able to wander freely around Ocean Garden and meet colourful starfish, seahorses and a giant pink turtle, all created by Goldberg Aberline Studio in partnership with Studio A, a supported studio tackling barriers for artists with intellectual disability.
To help welcome audiences, Awabakal Local Aboriginal Land Council’s Culture and Heritage Officer Pete Townsend will start the evening with a traditional smoking ceremony to clear negativity and launch the MAP mima as a place of creative discovery.
From 5.30pm, Saturday evening a 15-minute fanfare will echo across Speers Point Park when internationally acclaimed locally based musician Andy Firth takes to the open-air stage with his 19-piece big band, joined by Awabakal, Dhunghutt and Biripi man Ray Kelly Junior on yidaki (didgeridoo). Together, they will perform the premiere of Firth’s MAP mima Fanfare, a piece Frith composed to herald the arrival of the new arts venue, as part of ‘The Big Bang’ concert.
Firth, a renowned composer, director and clarinettist who has played at New York’s Carnegie Hall and with some of the world’s top jazz musicians, said MAP mima Fanfare was designed to take audiences on a ‘musical journey’ with diverse instruments and influences.
“Musicians and artists need more venues like MAP mima, that allow audiences to relax outside the confines and varying expectations of theatre and art gallery etiquette,” Firth said.
“That way, they can just sit back, be themselves and enjoy the magic that music, visual arts and theatre bring to the community.”
After the Fanfare, Firth will lead his band through a set of Swing Era favourites, along with music from Star Wars and some classic rock ‘n’ roll – big band style. The evening finishes with a spectacular light show and DJ set.
Sunday 16 January will see the final performance of local dance company Catapult’s stunning contemporary dance piece, Drift.
Seated tickets to The Big Bang concert featuring Andy Firth are $10, or you can listen from the park. Most Press Play events are free, while others are ticketed, with bookings essential.
The full program and bookings are available at arts.lakemac.com.au
Press Play will kick off a year of arts programming at MAP mima. This series of concerts, performances and events was awarded support from the Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) Fund—an Australian Government initiative.
Andy Firth’s MAP mima Fanfare was commissioned and jointly funded by Create NSW and Council.