Burrinja is back

Burrinja CEO Gareth Hart. 228933_02

By Taylah Eastwell

Burrinja Cultural Centre is excited to welcome back artists, performers and the community after the ever-unfolding events of 2020 put a pause on majority of exhibitions and events.

CEO and Creative Director at Burrinja, Gareth Hart said Burrinja is taking a “more rigorous approach” towards commissioning and showcasing the work of local creative professionals in 2021.

“We’ve always had a strong connection with our creative community but we are looking to heighten that and to encourage local artists to show their stories about this place.”

Hart said the focus on local talent is “being seen around the world” following the events of 2020 and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Another theme being seen in the art industry world wide is the theory of “hybrid performances”, according to Hart.

“There is a lot of talk in the industry about hybrid performances that can be live on stage in the theatre or can be digital. A hybrid model is the way the industry is moving forward. The idea of hybridity comes in because we are delivering some direct digital experiences and some in person experiences,” Hart said.

As well as offering digital, device delivered experiences, the meaning behind Burrinja’s “hybrid” focus this year also stems from the fact it involves some projects organised by past Executive Director Ross Farnell as well as some by current CEO Gareth Hart.

“A program was put in place in 2020 that got postponed which was put in place by Ross, so it also involves a little bit of a hybrid vision with things he booked in and things I’ve booked in,” Hart explained.

Hart said “the community really turned to the arts during lockdown”.

“The arts really connected us and I think that showed. We are seeing that people are really desiring to come back together.”

The 2021 line-up at Burrinja has been kicked off with an exhibition currently running that reflects on Eddie Mabo and the legal battle around native title.

On Sunday 28 February, the ‘Live on the Lawn’ music festival will showcase a variety of local talent including some of the regions most loved artists as well as emerging talents.

“There is a lot of excitement in the community about hearing live music together with 150 of your closest friends. We are really excited to be able to offer those opportunities,” Hart said.

Hart said it was a “complicated process” to apply to host an outdoor event through council and state government permits but “putting it all together has been a new learning curve for Burrinja”.

The live event will run with social distancing in place, and much thought and preparation has gone into designing the audience area, temporary fencing, reducing contact points, digitizing tickets and making payments contactless.

“We have eased into getting a sense of how our procedures work and can now manage the building in a Covid-safe way,” Hart said.

While organising events is “incredibly difficult” with the ever-changing nature of the pandemic, Burrinja have a range of events planned, including a one-night screening of dance films in March.

“Local artists have made dance films in the Yarra Ranges with lots of shots of different environments which will be really rich for the community to see. They’ll get to see this place in a new light through dance film,” Hart said.

Further information on what’s on at Burrinja can be found at https://www.burrinja.org.au/burrinja-whats-on/what-s-on-all-events.